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What is Content Marketing?

clock April 21, 2011 9:23 AM by author StephanieE

By now, most of us have heard more than enough about using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites for business. But have you heard the newly popular buzzword “Content Marketing”? This new marketing trend might just be your key to bringing in more Web traffic and leads for your organization, and can also enhance your public image.

Content marketing is basically the creation and distribution of useful information on the internet, in order to generate more good traffic to your Web site, and position you and your business as a thought leader. The information can be in the form of articles, white papers, videos, newsletters, webinars, blogs, podcasts, emails, and more.

These days, the majority of people research products on the internet. If they find the helpful information they are looking for in the content you have written or provided, free of charge, the customer can begin to view you as a useful source, rather than someone who just wants to push their product on you.

The idea behind content marketing is that as more and more prospects or customers view you as a useful informational source, good feelings are generated, brand awareness is enhanced, and you soon have a loyal, purchasing customer.

In order to be effective, content marketing cannot include sales-type text that is focused on the features your business offers. Instead, the information you provide should give them something of value, information that cannot be found just anywhere, but rather from you because of your expertise.

Not only do people appreciate your information, but so do Google and other search engines. Google just loves unique and original information, and will reward you for it with better rankings.

Here are some examples of how different companies could start up content marketing. (The best method will vary by business type!)

    • Heating and Air Conditioning Business:

      Create a newsletter where you provide monthly tips on how to maintain your furnace and air conditioner and tips on keeping heating and cooling bills down.

    • Retail Pet Store:

      Create a monthly e-mail marketing campaign, using the e-mails you collect from your customers, and send a monthly email about trends in pet care and ways to ensure the health of a pet.

    • Agricultural Products Distributor:

      Create a blog where you post one or two times a week about new technology available in your industry to farmers. Talk about how the new technology will (or won’t) help your customers. Let customers jump in and provide feedback on your comments.

Building a content marketing program takes time, but the rewards can be great, and you have to start somewhere! You might just be surprised how many people really want and need the information you have to offer.



What Good is a “What-If” Scenario for Farms?

clock April 18, 2011 9:55 AM by author StephanieE

Is your farm running less efficiently than you would like it to? Are you confused about what to do about it? Sometimes we are painfully aware that we have financial issues, yet we are too overwhelmed to know where to start. Running a farm is no different—there are so many things to think about in times of financial distress, that it’s hard to know where to start fixing things. That’s why it’s good to be able to run “what-if” scenarios

Creating “what-if” scenarios in your farm accounting software can help you project future sales, cash flow, income statements, and assets and liabilities. You can then in turn make good plans and decisions for your farm’s future.

Compare “what-if” budgets with actual and projected figures years into the future. Once you start tracking and running this information, your farm operation will begin to operate more profitably.



Is it Time to “Recycle” the Shoebox?

clock April 15, 2011 9:41 AM by author cindyb

For many of us, just the thought of financial record keeping, budgets or tax returns, gives a chill up our spine. But the truth is, a lack of proper financial management within an operation can lead to un-informed decision making and your bottom line can take a real hit.

I was recently surprised to meet business people who still use the “shoebox” method of financial management. You know, take one or more shoeboxes, fill them with all of your operation’s receipts, check stubs, and invoices, etc. At the end of the year bring them to your accountant and await your completed tax return. While this method satisfies Uncle Sam, it does nothing to help you track your operation’s profitability, efficiencies, or the true financial picture of your operation. Wouldn’t it be great to know how profitable each business segment really is? If you are like most businesses, you probably have more than one enterprise within your operation. Is one of those entities weighing down your whole operations net profits?

With just a couple clicks of a mouse and easy-to-use accounting software, you can generate information that concerns every aspect of your operation. When it comes to using financial management software, by entering your data once, the ability to analyze data and generate in-depth reporting is limitless. You can personalize your reports, profit centers, accounts, inventories and track data specific to your operation or its entities. I know you’re asking yourself, “Why would I want to use financial management software? My shoebox has fulfilled all of my needs?”

You likely work with a banker, an accountant, consultant, family members, and let’s not forget the government. Like it or not each of these are partners in your operation and reporting to them requires some element of financial record keeping. Financial accounting software can provide unlimited analysis to those members in your operation. For instance:

  • When you decide to make a major purchase for your operation, most often that requires a visit with your banker to take out a loan or a draw from your line of credit. You may be your banker’s top client or even dearest friend; you will still be required to produce a financial statement or balance sheet.
  • How about that accountant? If you’re currently using the “shoebox accounting” system, at best your accountant can give you the basics: a 1040, or cash accounting information within your general ledger, etc. However, by utilizing a computer and accounting software, you can find out so much more about the elements of your operation.
  • Is your operation run by you and members of your family? Nothing can be more rewarding than running a family-owned operation providing everyone is on the same page and in agreement on all aspects of the operation. If you and your family members have a hard time making decisions regarding the operation, chances are there are personal feelings involved in the decision making and the process can be more personal rather than business oriented. When you have your operation’s finances on the computer and you can access current and historical data to analyze where the strengths and weaknesses are within the operation, it will help take the personal element out of the process and sets the tone for better business decision making.
  • One of the responsibilities we all have as individuals and business owners is to pay taxes to the government. The federal and state governments require us to file tax returns as well as pay taxes. Depending on where you live, you may also be responsible for paying a local tax. When you have your financial data on the computer, all of the information you need to file a taxtax return is quickly available.

In today’s competitive market, every business owner should have computerizedrecords. Good financial data gives you the competitive edge and the confidence needed to make the best decisions for your operation’s profitability and efficiency. Decisions that will affect your future and that of your family for years to come. Go ahead; recycle the shoebox, the path to sound financial management is but a mouse click away!



Drilldown in Accounting Software Reports and Spreadsheets

clock April 11, 2011 9:25 AM by author danbrim

Drilldown is a convenient tool built into most modern accounting and business software programs.

Most of the time you run summary financial reports to evaluate business performance. When reviewing this information oftentimes certain numbers standout as unusual. Other times you just want to see what made up the summary number.

That is where drilldown becomes a very useful tool. Clicking on the row in question will open up either a more detailed report or the actual transaction, keying on the specific data for analyzing the summary number in question. Without this drilldown capability, you would have to open another report and set your parameters to get the detailed information you were looking to analyze.

Another effective use of drilldown is for editing erroneous transactions. For example, in reviewing a daily sales report, you find an entry error. Instead of having to go to an edit utility, find the transaction and edit it, drilldown gives you the capability to click on the report row and edit the transaction.

I do have one word of caution regarding programs that have drilldown capabilities. Report users may need to see certain summary information, but you don’t want them to see sensitive detail data or edit transactions. That is where you want to a select a program that offers security to prevent them from drilling down to information you don’t want them to see.



Payroll Software Direct Deposit – Publish Pay Advices Instead of Printing Them

clock April 8, 2011 9:50 AM by author StephanieE

Direct deposit is a payroll software tool that helps companies save time and money by depositing pay electronically into employee bank accounts. Many businesses are now going a step further and publishing and distributing their company's pay advices electronically instead of printing the pay stub on paper and handing them out or mailing them. Here are some great reasons for you and your business to try publishing pay advices electronically instead of printing them on paper.

  1. Easier distribution

    When you publish pay advices, an email notification is sent to employees, and from there they can click on a link to sign in and view their pay information. There is no longer a need to walk around with envelopes and distribute to each employee or pay postage and mail them. Distribution happens as soon as you send the email notifications, saving you the time associated with finding employees and handing them the paper documents, and you save money by cutting out the postage.

  2. Reduced paper and ink costs

    Pay advices typically use a sheet of paper and an envelope each. How many envelopes and paper would you save each year by eliminating the need for this paper each pay day? If you have 50 employees and they are paid every two weeks, it amounts to 1,300 envelopes and 1,300 sheets of paper. Help the environment and your bottom line by publishing electronically instead!

  3. Easy ongoing employee access to pay information

    Publishing pay advices allows the company to save pay data and make it available to employees, which in turn provides a secure place for employees to access their pay data with just a login name and email address. This saves the HR department time, and also lets employees know there is a central place for them to access their pay data any time they wish.

Using a publish pay advice application can help your company save time and money, and can also keep employees happy.



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