Kickstart Your Big Idea in 2014

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Perhaps you’re looking to pen your first cookbook but don’t have the extra funds to self-publish or to hire a professional photographer. Or, maybe you’re working on launching your first clothing line but can’t afford airfare to take much-needed buying trips to score that luxe Italian silk that really sets your clothing apart. Kickstarter may just be your secret weapon. The website allows users to upload videos promoting their new product, idea, book, business, food truck, etc. and allows them to accept donations from users by a designated date—so you can meet your mega-fundraising goal and get your project off the ground. Here’s how it works:

  • Grab a few of your friends that excel at writing and compose a script. Practice.
  • Borrow or rent a high-quality video camera to shoot your video. You could even pay an film student at your local college to film it and edit it for you (be sure to give them a credit at the end of the video).
  • Make sure that your message, your product and your image are solid. Know what you’re selling and be sure you can tell people why they need it. How is it different from what is already out there? What will your business or unique product bring to the community?
  • Sell your personal story. Part of the reason why Kickstarter is a successful tool is that it showcases the individuals behind a brand. Let viewers know you, believe in you and want to support you.
  • You need to come up with a money goal. But here’s the deal, you only have until your end date to raise funds. And, it’s all or nothing. For instance, if your goal is $10,000 and you only receive $8,500 by your end date, you don’t bring home any cash and your supporters’ credit cards won’t be charged.
  • Post to social media like it’s your full-time job. You need all the help you can get, and the more views to your Kickstarter page, the greater your chance of meeting your goal!

Check out cool projects like this one at kickstarter.com and start fundraising.

Thinking about posting a project to Kickstarter? Share it with us on Facebook.

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Credit? Check!

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Aside from the convenience it offers to your customers, accepting credit and debit cards can work wonders for your business. A few points you may not have considered about credit card acceptance:

Did you know that 83% of small businesses that accept credit cards not only make more sales, but get paid quicker than their competitors?

Don’t accept credit or debit? You’re missing out on approximately $7,000 in sales annually, which equates to more than $100 billion in collective lost revenue. (Just seems like a waste, doesn’t it?)

Credit cards make purchases convenient for your customers. They also increase the likelihood that your customers will make more frequent impulse buys… which means more money for you.

CoCard offers merchant accounts specifically tailored to retail merchants, restaurants, mail order businesses, e-commerce merchants, wireless merchants, supermarkets and non-profits. Besides their range of processing solutions and affordable, reliable tools for processing credit and debit cards, they also offer extra services like loyalty cards and merchant cash advances. See what you’re missing and contact us today!

 

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Smart Seasonal Marketing

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While your thoughts inevitably tend to drift during this time of year (that forthcoming ski trip, reuniting with distanced relatives), the holidays can potentially serve as a prime time for attracting new customers, too, if you take advantage of smart marketing options. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers these suggestions:

 

  • Post Competitions on Social Media. Use your strong Facebook and Twitter following to remind customers (and potential customers) how incredible your business is. Highlight new brands you have in stock and focus on new cocktails you’ve added to the menu (or delicious pre-made holiday meals) when you introduce fun, money-saving contests for your customers (perhaps a free gift or discount for the customer who snaps the best Instagram pic of a recent shopping experience at your store). Be sure to utilize hashtags to your advantage so you can get the word out beyond your typical social media circle.

 

  • Reward your Regulars. Maybe it’s a free bottle of wine or a complimentary meal. Perhaps it’s a coupon to use over the holidays, or simply a gift-wrapped candle and a card. Acknowledgment that you recognize and value your regulars goes a long way—and may attract additional clients via word of mouth. 

 

  • Share Advice. This month, offer regular snippets of holiday-related advice on your blog and through social media that pertain to your industry. If you’re a restaurant owner, mention cooking suggestions, dietary advice and decorating ideas. If you’re a book store owner, post book reviews of incredible new (or old) fireside reads, or stocking stuffers. Play up your expertise level and use that to attract customers. Be sure to use an original hashtag that highlights your brand.

 

  • Host an Event. It doesn’t have to be big, but throw a holiday-themed soiree or shopping experience and invite your customers. Offer complimentary beverages and discounts for purchases made during the event.

 

  • Amp up Email Marketing. Keep your customers updated on the new arrivals you have at your store, special coupons and new decor through email marketing. Utilize holiday themes, keep messages short and to the point, and stay relevant.
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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… Hyperloop

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If you’re a consummate traveler and are constantly hopping from one major city to the next, you’ll be interested in learning about the warp-speed travel break-through from Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. As CNN reported on Aug. 12, Musk’s proposed Hyperloop transportation system would utilize enormous tubes and an air-bearing suspension system to propel passengers at approximately 700 mph, making a trip from LA to San Francisco a 35-minute journey. If the plan comes to fruition, Hyperloop would be faster than commercial flight and twice as quick as the world’s fastest train.

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Ace Your Social Media Presence

social_mediaYou may wonder how your competitors maintain a seemingly constant presence across social media platforms. They tweet, pin and post to Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook at all hours of the day. And, while some social media addicts do stay glued to their smartphones 24/7, it’s more likely that they’re actually utilizing social media management tools, like HootSuite, to keep on top of their social media presence in real time.

HootSuite and others like it (see Sprout Social and MarketMeSuite) streamline all of your social media accounts to one page, so you can plan out posts to the minute. Plus, they allow you to keep an eye on social media statistics (ex: How many people view your page? How many likes and how much traffic are you receiving?). For tutorials and webinars, CLICK HERE

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Trick or Treat!

trick_or_treatRaging bonfires and sugary sweets are all the rage this weekend. Go all out this year and win a costume contest—or just dress up your yard and stock up on the “good” candy and score your kids’ admiration.  Scare yourself silly and explore a haunted house, go on a ghost walk and keep the television tuned to the spookiest flicks.

Whatever you do, all of us at CoCard hope you have a fabulous Halloween!

Keep us posted on what you’re up to—and what you’re dressing up as—and share photos and updates with us on Facebook and Twitter @cocardatlanta #cocardcostumes

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It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month

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As October comes to a close, we’re also celebrating the 10th anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Administered by the Department of Homeland Security, the program strives to protect the country from online incidents and to raise awareness by hosting programs and events nationwide. If you’ve missed some of these events over the month, please read over the following tips below from the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

  • Set strong passwords and do not share them.
  • Be careful about what you click and read online. Buzzword offers and catchy subject-lines are often attached to spam.
  • Use privacy settings and be careful about the private information you share online.
  • Keep your computer clear and clean by regularly deleting excess items and running program updates.

 

Currently on the FBI’s watch list:

Beware of Citadel malware platform Reveton Ransomware. The scam directs you to a download website and tricks users into paying a $300 fine to “unlock” their computers. The ransomware accuses users of violating U.S. laws and locks their computers. This is a hoax. Do not pay the money, instead, file a complaint at ic3.gov.

Click here to read more about the latest e-scams and warnings.

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Return from Vacation with Tact

vacation_photoSummer’s coming to an end, and the kids are back in school, which means many of us have cashed in those vacation days or soon will.  As you consider your holiday plans and think about that all-inclusive resort in Cozumel remember to take advantage, turn off your smartphone and enjoy the much-needed R&R. Then… return to work a better boss. As president and managing partner of Dynamic Experience Group, Doug Fleener advises, be careful about the way you return back to the office, particularly if you’re a business owner. Checking in on your staff occasionally to make sure everything is running smoothly? Totally understandable. But, immediately pointing out the places where they fell short while you were snorkeling? Not ok. Keep in mind that your staff has had to pick up your slack while you were out of town. Putting them on the defensive when you return from grand vacations not only shows your lack of confidence in your employees; it hurts company morale as well. “Ultimately, if a store or company doesn’t run well when you’re out, it’s a leadership issue that starts with you,” says Fleener. “Fix it. But the last thing you need to do is to make people feel under-appreciated for their hard work when you’re out of the store.”

Did you take a great trip this summer? Share your vacation pics and travel stories @cocardatlanta

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Finding Your Feng Shui

feng_shuiYou’ve avoided using harsh lighting in your business and painted your walls in soothing colors, but since opening several years ago, you’ve done little to change your office’s appeal—both to yourself, your employees and to potential clients. Improve your office’s productivity, and lend your business a much-needed face lift with a few of these easy, cost-effective suggestions:

  • Bring in the plants. Feng Shui—a Chinese philosophy that focuses on arranging a room according to its energy—puts heavy emphasis on the importance of bringing the outdoors indoors. Besides the aesthetic element, a few large, leafy plants can lend to an overall sense of calm.

 

  • Try out those stand-up desks. If you are like most businesses, you and your employees spend a good deal of time re-adjusting your office chairs, stretching and massaging aching necks. Studies have shown that the sedentary office environment does not do well for overall health (even for those people that are active outside of the office). In fact, if you sit at a desk for more than four hours a day, you boost your risk of contracting heart problems by 125%. Yikes! Which may be why so many mega corporations (Google, Apple, Boeing, Intel) are opting for standing desks instead. Not only do they take the strain off of the neck, shoulders and back, but companies are finding that this new work structure increases productivity, too. Start with one for you, and if you like how you feel, slowly incorporate them for all of your employees.

 

  • Consider repainting your office. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders on a room and on the office’s mood. Opt for soothing hues like mossy green, pale blue and earth tones.

 

  • Instead of black and grey notebooks, staplers and pencil cups, go for fun, vibrant office supplies where you can afford them. Poppin has an entire line of funky office goods with a low price tag.

 

  •  Swap out family photos for art. Sure, a few family photos on your desk is fine, but putting them all over the walls of the office is overkill. Look for nature photography and pieces by local artists to spruce up your work space. You can save huge money (and encourage office camaraderie) by blowing up vacation photos you and your employees have taken on various trips. Place them in over-sized frames and, voila! You’ve got a brand new look!

 

Do you have a Feng Shui office environment? Share your pics @cocardatlanta.

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Forecasting Growth

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The Global Electronic Fund Transfer Point-of-sale Systems Market (EFTPOS) is expected to grow by 8.4 % between now and 2016, according to recent findings from researchandmarkets.com. Part of this growth can be attributed to an increased usage of Europay, MasterCard and Visa. With growth, of course, comes an increased need for improved security across the board (something we take very seriously at CoCard). Heightened security measures include signature capturing devices, biometric sensors, touch screens, radio frequency identification and bar code scanners. This report also included a thorough market analysis including input from industry experts, as well as a study on the key vendors working in this market. Those vendors mentioned in the study include First Data Corp., Ingenico S.A., Pax Technology Ltd. and VeriFone Systems Inc.

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