Overhauled SBA Website to Go Live in the Fall

Revamped SBA.gov will deliver essential information and services to small business owners

Release Date:  July 29, 2010; Contact: Cecelia Taylor (202) 401-3059

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that a complete redesign of its website, SBA.gov, will launch this fall.

The new SBA.gov will make it easier for small businesses, lending institutions, small business counselors and other members of the small business community to more quickly find the information they need through a simplified navigation structure.  In addition, new features will allow users to tailor their experience to provide information that is specific to their needs and location. 

The new website also will offer a dedicated lender area that helps banks and other financial institutions that partner with the SBA.

“Our goal as an agency is to get information, tools and services into the hands of small business owners more quickly so they can spend more time doing what they do best – creating the jobs that will drive our economic recovery,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.  “Through a new, personalized and dynamic SBA.gov we will be better able to support job growth across the country.”

The website redesign is part of the SBA’s goal to create a dynamic online presence that delivers information to customers wherever they are online. To achieve this goal, the agency recently began using social media to reach constituents through a variety of online channels such as Facebook and Twitter.  The agency also recently launched an improved search function on the current SBA.gov website which vastly improves the speed at which users can find the information they are looking for in advance of the launch of the new site this fall. 

The website redesign is also the Flagship Initiative of the SBA’s Open Government Plan and addresses all three of the agency’s Open Government goals – transparency, participation and collaboration – by providing direct access to agency programs and operations, allowing users to customize their online experience, and, beginning next year, incorporating community features such as discussion forums and public feedback tools.

For more information on the SBA’s online expansion, please visit www.sba.gov/next.

Industry Group to Study How a Mobile Nation Uses Media

By SUZANNE VRANICA, Wall Street Journal

Some of the nation’s biggest media companies and advertisers, seeking to develop new ways of measuring audiences, could make Apple Inc.’s iPhone the vehicle for a study of how Americans consume media on a range of devices—from TV sets to mobile phones to computers.

The study would be one of the first major initiatives of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, a high-profile collaboration between the media and ad industries begun last summer with much fanfare.

“When you go from a single-media world to a multimedia world, then all the media-measurement techniques have to change” says Jane Clark, managing director of CIMM.

The group is in talks to hire Media Behavior Institute LLC, a New York media-research firm, to conduct a study in which participating consumers would get an iPhone in exchange for agreeing to report their media use several times a day. The effort could get off the ground in the fall, if approved by the group’s board members, says CIMM.

An iPhone app that may log study participants’ media use.
  
The iPhones would come with a specially designed app that study participants would log on to every half hour to answer questions, such as what media they were watching or listening to, who they were doing it with and whether they were using more than one device at a time.

In a media world that has grown increasingly fragmented, advertisers are eager to figure out how best to allocate their ad budgets. At the same time, media companies, which have seen TV audiences splinter over the years, are eager to find a way to prove that people are watching their shows on devices beyond the traditional TV set. They also are more frequently trying to sell ad packages across their different properties, such as a mix of broadcast and cable channels.

“We’d all like to have more insights into exactly how consumers are behaving across screens, the impact of seeing ads on each of them and in combination,” says Colleen Fahey Rush, executive vice president of strategic insights and research for Viacom‘s MTV Networks, one of CIMM’s founding members.

If the study proves effective, the group wants to continue to conduct the same type of research on a continuing basis, either annually or twice a year. But the decision will come down to cost.

The research can be expensive, and funding is a big issue for the group. People familiar with the project say it is seeking to spend just under $1 million on the study. Early plans call for it to include about 1,000 people.

“Right now we are trying to figure out how to make the budget fit the funding,” says Jim Spaeth, co-founder of the Media Behavior Institute.

CIMM, which has 16 full-fledged members and six nonvoting members, has raised about $1.75 million to work with this year. Members have agreed to fork over $100,000 annually for full membership or $25,000 without voting rights. The companies involved have committed to participate in the group for two years.

Members include General Electric Co.’s NBC, Viacom Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., Publicis Groupe SA’s Starcom MediaVest and Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Mediabrands unit.

Historically these companies have combined viewership data from a range of sources, including TV-audience-measurement heavyweight Nielsen Co. But the group thinks that approach led to holes in the research.

Nielsen itself will begin using a single source for online-video and TV-viewing measurement. It is currently installing Internet-measurement devices in Nielsen homes, and expects to begin offering the data in the fourth quarter.

Several members of CIMM say there is a sense of urgency to get their project under way since the coalition was formed almost a year ago.

Another focus for the group is developing new ways to measure TV-viewing patterns from set-top boxes that are controlled by telecom, cable and satellite firms. But that has been a more challenging task. The group says it tried to commission a pilot test of set-top data earlier this year, but has been unable to get many of the firms to share their data.

CIMM also is talking to Canoe Ventures, a group made up of the country’s six largest cable operators, including Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp., about a possible pilot test, says MTV Networks’ Ms. Rush.

While some companies, like Tivo Inc., have begun to give out data they collect through set-top boxes, the industry overall has been slow to release viewing data from the boxes because of technical issues and privacy concerns, CIMM says. Other companies are also more interested in selling the data, rather than participating in the study, according to a person familiar with the matter.

CIMM has come up with a set-top box lexicon, a common set of definitions for more than 800 terms used in analyzing set-top-box data. Members say a common language is needed because data providers have different meanings, and that makes it hard to get a clear picture from data pulled together from several companies.

The group has hired a consultant to write a white paper that includes all of the things the group wants from set-top-box ratings and what kinds of things it needs. It says it hopes the paper will be a “roadmap” for cable, satellite, and telecom companies.

However, CIMM’s Ms. Clark hasn’t abandoned her effort to get a pilot test done on the set-top box data. “I would love to see something by the end of the year and I am not giving up hope,” she says.

—Sam Schechner contributed to this article.

SBA Webinar Provides Tips on Testing Your Business Recovery Plan

WASHINGTON – Once you’ve developed a business continuity plan, it’s a good idea to make sure it works.  A successful dry run will reassure your management team, employees and customers that no matter what disaster occurs, you’ll be back in business quickly.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has partnered with Agility Recovery Solutions to offer disaster preparedness strategies for small business owners via their “PrepareMyBusiness” website (www.preparemybusiness.org).  

On Tuesday, July 27 Agility’s Testing Manager Adam Quilty will discuss the basics of Testing Your Recovery Plan.  Key points discussed during the live, interactive webinar include improving recovery efficiency, minimizing downtime and protecting your business’ bottom line.

  • WHO: Adam Quilty, Testing Manager, Agility Recovery Solutions
  • WHAT: During the Webinar, Testing Manager Quilty will present best practices on Testing Your Recovery Plan.  The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.
  • WHEN: 2:00—3:00 p.m. EDT
  • HOW:  Register in Advance for Testing Your Recovery Plan  by visiting

Agility’s “Prepare My Business” website at www.preparemybusiness.org/education.

Strategic Growth Concepts Signs Nationally-Recognized Organizing Expert, Pam Socolow, CEO of the Award-Winning Family Facts™ Organizers as New Client

Strategic Growth Concepts to Provide Social Media Strategic Planning and Implementation Services to Enhance Family Facts™ Branding Efforts

SOUTHFIELD, MI – Strategic Growth Concepts today announced the signing of its newest client, Family Facts by Pam Socolow™.  Family Facts™, provider of the award-winning line of family-oriented organizing products of the same name, will retain Strategic Growth Concepts to provide comprehensive social media strategic planning and implementation services.

Explains the firm’s CEO, Pam Socolow, “We know that the social media space is where our customers are communicating today, and that it is vital for us to be there.  When seeking someone to help us develop a strategy to move into this new media area, we sought out a firm that was not only extremely knowledgeable and professional, but one that could also show us that they ‘put their money where their mouth is’ by implementing a strong social media strategy for themselves so we could be certain they understand the medium.  We found that in Strategic Growth Concepts.”

Strategic’s services for Family Facts™ will include:  performance of an Internet reputation analysis, social media goals development, identification of the appropriate social media platforms to attract the firm’s target audience, development of a consumer interaction plan, a promotional program to increase awareness of Family Facts new social media sites, methods for monitoring consumer engagement and more.

Strategic Growth Concepts CEO, Linda Daichendt, states “We’re very excited to be able to help Family Facts™ increase brand awareness, and develop an on-going dialog with consumers.  This firm’s award-winning products are the perfect solution to managing the diverse organizational needs of today’s busy families; we’re honored to play a role in ensuring that parents learn the many ways these products can make their life easier by showcasing the products via social media.”

For additional information, contact Strategic Growth Concepts CEO, Linda Daichendt, at info@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com , by telephone at 248-470-3257, or via the company’s website at www.StrategicGrowthConcepts.com .

____________________________________________________________

Strategic Growth Concepts, a division of DAIMAR Enterprises, Inc. is a Detroit area firm that provides consulting and training services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses nationally in the areas of Start-up, Marketing, Operations, HR and Strategic Planning with areas of specialization that include:  mobile marketing, social media marketing, and virtual events production.  The firm’s CEO, Linda Daichendt, an award-winning blogger on the use of new media in growing a business, is a recognized business expert with 20+ years of corporate, small business and franchising experience.  Linda can be contacted at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com , and the company website can be viewed at www.StrategicGrowthConcepts.com.

Family Facts creator Pam Socolow, a long time organizing and time management expert, is familiar to television audiences for her role as a regular contributor to HGTV’s enormously popular series, Mission Organization. ­­­ An associate member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, Ms. Socolow’s products have won numerous awards including:  iParent Media Awards, the Family Choice Award, the National Association of Parenting Publications Award, and the National Mail Order Association Award.  Information on the Family Facts™ line of products is available at www.Family-Facts.com, by calling 914-666-8383 or via email at publisher@family-facts.com .

SBA Offers New Podcasts to Help Small Businesses Break into the Global Market

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U. S. Small Business Administration is now offering a new set of three export-oriented podcasts offering valuable information on issues and challenges small business exporters may find when dealing with specific countries. 

The podcasts, featuring interviews with business representatives from Uganda, Cameroon and Bahrain, are part of a comprehensive effort by SBA to promote and support the President’s National Export Initiative.  The interviews focus on what U.S. companies can expect when exporting to those countries and provide information relevant to their respective business and import environments.

“U.S. small businesses looking to increase sales and profit should look beyond the U.S. borders. Nearly 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the U.S. and small businesses need to factor that in to their strategic planning,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “We’re hoping these tools will help them do that, so they can grow and create jobs here at home.”

The podcasts on Uganda and Cameroon include interviews with two women business owners who are members of the African Women’s Business Network, an organization that supports a network of businesswomen’s organizations in Africa.  The podcast on Bahrain features an interview with an official of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce.

The podcasts are available online at http://www.sba.gov/tools/audiovideo/Podcasts/index.html and include transcripts.  They provide valuable information on country infrastructure, types of U.S. products and services in demand, cultural tips on how to do business, and other relevant issues.

In his State of the Union Address on Jan. 27, 2010, President Obama announced the National Export Initiative, as part of an effort to promote and achieve long-term, sustainable economic growth for the United States.  The president has a goal of doubling exports over the next five years, an increase that will support 2 million American jobs.  The SBA is committed to supporting NEI by offering American small businesses the resources they need to break into and succeed in the global market.

In addition to the new online tools, SBA resource partners – Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE – as well as U.S.

Export Assistance Centers are available to assist small businesses who are interested in exporting in every U.S. state and territory.  These resource partners can help entrepreneurs identify potential export markets, facilitate export transactions, develop links between United States small business and prescreened foreign buyers, advise on participation in international trade shows, assist in obtaining export financing and developing or reorienting marketing and production strategies. In addition to counseling resources in every state and territory there are export specialists available at the eight International Trade Export Assistance Centers and SCORE online international trade advisers. 

There are 19 U.S. Export Assistance Centers located in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States.  USEACs are one-stop shops ready to provide small- or medium-sized businesses with personalized local export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations.  For more information on USEACs, please visit http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/internationaltrade/useac/index.html.

To find your local counseling resources please visit www.sba.gov.

Just Say No to Silos in Your Corporate Structure

As most who have worked in either a Marketing Department or a Public Relations Department can tell you, the two teams are often asked to perform functions that SHOULD be integrated but rarely are.  This issue occurs whether the company in question is large or small.  However, the advantage that a small company has in resolving this problem is that there are generally going to be significantly less people involved; therefore, implementing a process where the two can collaborate and develop integrated strategies, in theory, should be significantly easier.

If this issue has never openly affected your company (at least that you are aware of), you might not understand its’ importance and the many ways it can adversely affect your small business.  However it’s an extremely critical issue, and failure to get these two teams to “play well together” can result in mixed messages to your customers leading to misunderstanding about the products or services you offer, and often resulting in total failure to attract the customers you are targeting because they don’t “get” your message.

To help you understand the importance of both the marketing and public relations functions, and the importance of these two teams working in sync, we have requested an article by one of Strategic Growth Concepts strategic partner firms, Volare Public Relations.  We hope this article will provide some clarity on the issue, and give you ideas on how you can begin a more cohesive strategic planning process for your firm’s messaging.

____________________________________________________________

Hi, Marketing! I’m Public Relations, your next-door neighbor. Unfortunately, we’ve never met, even though we’ve lived here for a while. I live in this silo: 

OK, I don’t live in that groovy silo house. But I’ve seen companies hire separate agencies and drop them in silos, where they churned out completely different communications strategies. The resulting material doesn’t look like it’s from the same place. The look is diluted; the copy is all over the place. Customers aren’t getting a consistent message, so it doesn’t register that they’re looking at that brand/product/company they like.

Especially in a challenging economy, companies try to cut corners on marketing and communications by consolidating departments. Someone from marketing may be asked to lead direct mail and a PR person might be expected to build the marketing component in the business plan.

If we’re not acquainted, we’re going to end up with big holes in the communications strategy. I’ve been locked in the silo before. Now that my partner and I have our own company, we make sure everyone shows up in the barn for the big hoedown.

Anyone who touches PR, marketing, advertising, direct mail, social media, etc. not only needs to know what the other team is doing, they need to have a seat at the table during planning to ensure the marcomm plan components are complementary, and ultimately feed into the company’s overall business goals.

At a recent meeting of the Public Relations Society of America – Detroit Chapter, Mark O. Benner, APR, shot down the silos. Mark, principal of Mark O. Benner LLC, is the former SVP and Director of Corporate Communications at Campbell-Ewald, where he was responsible for making sure the PR folks were talking to the ad folks, and vice versa.

Mark referenced a 2010 Vocus integrated communications survey of nearly 1,000 PR practitioners that found marketing and PR are talking, but data suggests the relationship isn’t necessarily functional. While 77 percent say they have formal working relationships, 67 percent say they get together only “sometimes.”

Social media in particular is a battlefield: Forty-three percent of PR professionals feel they should own social media, while 34 percent of marketers make the same claim.

Further, Mark called out industry stereotypes that we’ve all heard before:

  • Only PR talks with journalists
  • Direct mail belongs to advertising
  • Only creatives have big ideas

How do we get everyone to play nice?

Begin by embracing the objective and respecting the expertise that your team brings to the table. “You win this battle with collaboration from everyone on a ‘one voice’ creative strategy at the very start,” Mark says. “This means everyone agrees on the theme, tagline, logo, colors, tone; every piece. Is making the team bigger going to mean complications? Yes. But the payoffs are significant.”

The new team will …

  • Build trust for subsequent projects
  • Earn kudos for effectiveness and efficiency
  • Recognize the critical linkage of relationships to transactions and brand loyalty
  • Keep consumer’s needs in focus with the organization’s objectives

You don’t have the resources to build that collaborative team? Why not, on your next project, find someone with different thinking? “Set up an advisory committee,” Mark suggests. “Hire a consultant. Go pick the brain of a friend or colleague outside your business.

“Respect the expertise of PR, or relationships, and marketing, the transactions, and find a way to bring them in.”

Are you breaking down the silos at your company? Or are you stuck inside? Tell us your stories.

____________________________________________________________

Guest blog by Jennifer Marsik Friess, partner/owner of Volare Public Relations. Connect with her at Volarepr.com, 248-974-3880, jennifer.marsikfriess@volarepr.com .

http://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifermarsikfriess

http://twitter.com/jenmarsikfriess

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.