Day: October 1, 2020
It’s an idea, not a group, and its radical leftist adherents refuse to disavow violence.
Marilynne Robinson, Elena Ferrante, and more reasons to love a bountiful season.
Businesses have always enjoyed a comfortable position when it comes to planning and preparation.
Sadly, this isn’t the case anymore.
Due to the competitive digital landscape, business owners need to chalk out entire outlines, strategies, and implementation within weeks – or even days.
So if you can’t keep up with this accelerated pace, somebody else will.
The best way to stay ahead in the competition? Having a carefully drafted digital strategy.
Think of the whole thing as the guiding light.
Without it, companies will be stuck with their old-fashioned efforts and won’t be able to take advantage of moving online. Plus, a result-driven approach serves as the basis of digital strategy, which can be very beneficial for your company.
If you think that the ongoing pandemic has changed things, you‘re wrong.
On the contrary, experts at DMEXCO predict that 70% of executives expect the pace of digital strategy to boost further during these unique times.
So yes, you do need a comprehensive digital strategy that works for you.
And what better way to develop this other than enlisting the help of an expert digital strategy consultant who can do a broad set of activities, each of which is directed towards helping you meet your goals.
In this guide, our team at Neil Patel Digital will take you through the whole process of hiring the best consultant, along with the benefits of seeking a consultancy for your business.
5 Ways a Digital Strategy Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business
What is your primary objective for launching a business?
Profit and long-term growth, right?
Well, identifying your digital strategy is the most crucial aspect for attaining both goals.
After all, it’s a high-level overview that defines and outlines where you are currently and where you would want to be. It also includes milestones set throughout a specific course of your journey, making it a reliable long-term plan.
Keeping this in mind, digital strategy consulting can help you recognize new technologies and services suitable for your platform. And hiring a consultant will make sure you‘re taking advantage of everything that’s out there and reaping the profits.
Boosting Efficiency and Increasing Margins
If there’s one thing that companies want, it’s consistent improvement in efficiency. Whether it’s targeting employee collaboration and performance or better delivery to customers and clients – everything counts.
You’ll be able to jumpstart your company‘s efficiency with the help of a digital strategy consultant.
You see, being an expert gives them the knowledge to use cutting-edge digital tools that can ensure precise and fast communication within your company. The data they offer will be more accessible and polished.
Plus, there’s zero risk of anything being lost or repeated due to clear and carefully designed strategies that have been optimized for efficiency.
Getting a consultant can be useful for streamlining client communication too. As a result, you can build long-lasting relationships by giving customers higher value for their investment.
Happier clients translate to higher profit margins and more referrals, so it’s only positives for your company.
Staying Relevant and Important
Turning digital means you‘ll have several competitors – nay, several tough competitors.
Entering a digital culture means your customers do everything digitally, from transactions to information gathering to investing.
You can stay ahead in your niche industry by offering a unique product that no one else offers, but it still isn’t the endgame.
You have to go beyond your website, electronic device optimization, or implementing best SEO practices.
A consultant will guide you with the digital changes that are happening around us, equipping you with the newest technologies as they arise, and incorporating the latest market developments into your business direction.
Essentially, the expert will make your business digitally competitive right from the start and establish you as a digital leader.
Give You the Biggest Bang for Your Buck
You must already be on the lookout for investments that can maximize ROI – or get rid of bad investments altogether.
But this isn’t a perfect world.
You have to be careful about the decisions you make and how you run your company.
Working with a digital strategy consultant does require investment, but it’s one that has a greater possibility to pay off – in fact, some might say it’s guaranteed too if you have the right man for the job.
They give you access to a lot of crucial information and are ready to do all the hard work to provide you high value in a short period.
And not only that, you get a clear idea of the path you should take for your company to maximize your revenue and ensure success.
Moreover, having a consultant also eliminates the need for other employees, hence, cutting down costs in the long run. This will then contribute towards a boosted ROI in the end.
Gaining New Partnerships
Partnerships with business and corporations are a necessity for long-term growth, no matter how old your business is.
In fact, you can transform your company vision and enter a new frontier in your niche if you choose your partnerships carefully. This, in turn, can relatively increase your customer base as well as present a lucrative alternative to going solo.
In other words, a consultant will point you in the right direction to become digitally competitive.
You might also receive invites from organizations that want to enter into a mutually beneficial partnership, and ultimately, achieve digital leadership.
Let’s not forget there is also a possibility of turning your competitors into partners that can increase market demand and customer base as a consequence.
A Successful Digital Transformation
Remember all the dinosaur processes that will only be you down today?
Digital transformation will help you bid farewell to all of them, as well as cut down unnecessary costs for employees, products, and services.
Since a consultant makes you more available and accessible for your customers, you’ll be able to maximize user experience, allowing you to climb to the top of your industry.
A digital strategy will lay down the stepping stones that you and your team can follow to become digital relevant.
How to Get Started With a Digital Strategy Consultant
Good digital strategy consultants have a similar style of working with the odd exceptions as they primarily focus their attention on your customer and company goals.
Hiring the Right Digital Strategy Consultant
Before choosing a specific candidate, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does digital technology impact the businesses you are in?
- How could digital technology improve the way you add value to the businesses?
- Is it possible for digital technology to change your target customer?
- Does digital technology affect the value proposition to your target customer?
- Can digital technology enhance enterprise capabilities, helping you differentiate your brand from your competition? How?
Look for a prospective consultant that can refine your understanding of the above questions further. In addition to this, you should ask to see a list of samples, references, reviews, and case studies to determine their competency.
Holding Meetings to Streamline Strategy Development
A consultant won’t be able to create a digital strategy for your company if they don’t have an in-depth understanding of your business.
So the first thing that they do is ask you a lot of questions to gain a clear understanding of how your business functions and its objectives. For instance:
- Questions regarding your current benchmarks, overall goals, and objectives for every segment and as a whole.
- Questions about KPIs and metrics that you used to measure performances.
- Questions about tactics used to achieve your business goals and objectives and the marketing channels you used to attract customers.
- Customer expectations.
- Questions about platforms with the highest customer engagement.
Don’t shy away or get irritated by these probing questions. After all, your digital strategy shows you your current situation, tells you where you’re going, and devises ways to help you get there.
Chalking Out the Final Game Plan
After you answer their questions, you can expect the consultant to show you a cohesive strategy that has been tailor-made to suit your business needs.
The plan should include details about the following:
- Media advertising, which includes TV commercials, streaming services, and so on.
- Public relations that focus on strategies to increase visibility and publicity for your business.
- Digital marketing, which includes local search, organic search engine optimization, advertising, and content marketing.
- Direct response tactics like hyperlocal print advertising or geofencing – whichever is a better fit.
- Possibility of future partnerships.
The expert will show you a proposed digital strategy or examples from previous client campaigns, and how they plan on moving forward with your campaign.
You can use this as an opportunity to evaluate the consultant’s work and skillset. Don’t be afraid to suggest specific tweaks and adjustments if you deem it fit.
Here’s what you can do:
- Request performance data for evaluation purposes.
- Carefully observe the campaign elements they consistently prioritize.
- Identify knowledge gaps, holes, or weak points in the strategy.
Another alternative would be to pick a specific part of your business, such as advertising or content, and ask the consultant to build a strategy to accommodate a specific goal. This can be to increase sales for the worst-performing products, double the traffic within a month, etc.
Supplying the Necessities
If you’re happy with the consultant after analyzing their approach, the next step would be to provide them with necessary documents and give access to things that could help them implement the strategy effectively.
This includes an official agreement, brand content (brochures, flyers, images, logos, content), relevant photography (company photos, portraits of key people, location, office space, event photos), and social proofs.
The Final Implementation
Having your consultant create an effective digital strategy is crucial, yes. But it isn’t as important as its successful execution.
So just having a great strategy isn’t enough.
Your consultant should have the experience, expertise, and team back up to implement the strategy and produce results.
After execution, you should ask the consultant to collect, analyze, and provide you with useful insights about the launched campaigns. You can incorporate their suggestions and increase your budget to drive results, if required, as well.
Measuring the ROI of Digital Strategy Consulting Services
Consider this: How will you be able to conclude whether you‘re on the right path without knowing the ROI?
Luckily, figuring out the right KPIs for your business can help you measure the success of a business strategy.
The following are a few KPIs that allow you to analyze the overall performance of your digital campaigns:
Brand Engagement on Website
Your brand is necessary for building customer loyalty, creating a competitive advantage, and just… long-term survival.
It’s what distinguishes you from your direct competitors.
To properly measure brand engagement on your website, you need to consider the more refined KPIs that provide valuable metrics, such as:
- Number of unique visitors
- Number of return visitors
- Popular pages and how customers get there
- Total time spent on the website
- Number of people registering for a specific offering
Knowing where your customers come from is key to developing a powerful digital strategy since you know exactly what or who is driving visitors to your website.
For this purpose, you need to consider four main traffic sources:
- Direct visitors who visit your website by typing the URL into their browser.
- Referral visitors who ended up on your website after clicking a link on another website.
- Organic visitors who arrived at your site after searching in a search engine.
- Campaign visitors who visited your site via an advertisement or campaign.
Inbound Marketing ROI
Of course, you want to see a return on your investment.
However, it can be difficult to see the full potential and value of inbound marketing if you don’t have KPIs. For this purpose, consider the following formula:
ROI = (Sales growth – Marketing Investment) / Marketing Investment
Social Media Traffic
Social media is an integral part of every digital strategy. If your consultant doesn’t include it, know right away that they don’t know what they’re doing.
At the same time, simply creating accounts on popular social media platforms isn’t enough for success. In this case, the KPIs are as follows:
- Number of leads generated from every social media channel.
- Number of conversions generated from every social media channel.
- Number of customers who reach out to your company via every social media channel.
- Overall percentage of traffic that advance from social media channels.
Landing Page Conversions
You should check whether your landing page is sending your customer on the right path, which is why KPIs are crucial here.
The tricky part here is this metric is a little difficult to measure since the consultant may have a different goal for landing pages. Nevertheless, you can ask the expert to use Google Analytics to gain access to reports that help you measure organic traffic as well as per search traffic.
You can also make changes to your CTA, CTA buttons, revise written content, or add reviews and testimonials depending on the results generated after A/B testing.
4 Point Checklist For Finding the Right Digital Strategy Consultant
If you’re still figuring out how to find the right digital marketing consultant for your company, take a look at our short checklist to know where to start.
Familiarity With the Digital Landscape
Whether it’s setting short-term goals or long-term goals, the digital strategy consultant should have demonstrated knowledge about the market to think of strategies that can enhance your inbound marketing and outbound marketing efforts.
Creating a plan will always differ according to your business. For instance, some businesses require CRMs, while some need ERPs. The expert should know the right way to proceed to help you achieve your business objectives and streamline campaign processes.
We would highly recommend working with industry thought leaders who understand the digital world and have the credentials to back it up.
Processes to Develop and Execute Effective Digital Strategies
As mentioned before, knowledge of custom tools is important for delivering satisfactory results. More so, in the ever dynamic landscape of digital marketing.
You want to hire a consultant that uses relevant marketing techniques which include:
- Content creation
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing
- Responsive web design
At Neil Patel Digital, for instance, we have an in-house SEO program powered by content marketing, that can be useful for enhancing the effectiveness of digital campaigns.
Combination of Experience and Expertise
While it’s true that you can find several freelance digital strategy consultants, your main lookout should be to identify the extent of their experience and expertise.
Yes, they say that they can triple your conversions, but do they have the brain and muscle to back their claims?
It’s best to work with seasoned professionals who understand your current marketing strategy and can identify weak spots that require improvement.
Broad Industry Knowledge and Diverse Portfolio
A digital strategy expert must have expertise across several different verticals. The idea here is to make sure the professional knows the technical foundations of different things where they can use their marketing know-how and promote your offerings.
The best way to ensure this is by choosing a consultant who has worked with diverse clients. Working with a reputable digital marketing agency, for instance, will give you access to a team with several specialties that can be beneficial for your campaigns and other operations.
Now more than ever, businesses had to adjust their plans and offerings to meet customer expectations.
Digital strategies that played out over the course of years may now be over in a matter of days, which is why hiring expert help can be useful to keep up with this dynamic arena.
Having the right digital strategy consultant will ensure your company adapts smoothly to rapidly changing markets and remain ahead of your competition.
Thinking of the next steps? Get in touch with our experienced professionals here.
A visitor hits your website and wants to talk to you. What does that person start searching for?
Your Contact Us page.
It’s a page on your site that pushes visitors from browser to buyer.
Contact Us pages are among the most underutilized and misunderstood resources on the web today.
Some companies don’t use them at all, and those that do have them often push these critical pages to the back burner during website revision projects.
That stops today.
I’ll share a step-by-step plan you can follow to strategize and revise this lowly web page. And I’ll use plenty of examples to spark your creativity.
Let’s get started.
What Is a Contact Us Page?
Think of a Contact Us page as a sort of digital business card. Sure, it’s short and concise. But if someone wants to reach out to you, they’ll use this page to do so.
Contact Us pages often get lumped in with other critical website resources, including:
- About Us pages: Use this resource to explain your company’s history, goals, and direction. If someone wants to know how you became a leader in your field, the data is ready to go.
- Help pages: Customers with critical product or service questions lean on this page to get their answers.
- Employment pages: Job seekers need private, protected spaces to learn more about open opportunities.
A Contact Us page is different because you’re telling people more about getting in touch with you.
Your page should also embody your brand and entice that click. If your Contact Us page is the blandest one on your website, you’re not alone. The best contact us pages contain some value proposition, even when they don’t have a lot of text.
Do You Need a Contact Us Page?
A Contact Us page can’t be skipped because it is a trust signal. Share location information and highlight your phone number and email, and you’ll demonstrate to wary consumers that they can reach you at any time.
Trust and transparency matter in marketing. Contact Us pages start the process.
Five Key Contact Us Page Elements
You know you need a Contact Us page. But you have no idea what to put on the page. Push past the writer’s block, and follow this recipe for success.
A converting Contact Us page contains these critical pieces:
- Your company name: Don’t beat around the bush. Use your full company name.
- Your physical address: This can get tricky for multi-location companies. Maps often solve the problem (and more on that in a minute). If you share only one address, use the one associated with your corporate headquarters.
- A map to your location: Google Maps hold immense power for marketers. When customers know where you are, even when they’re looking at a mobile device, your conversion rates can skyrocket. Boost that power by adding a Google Map to your Contact Us page.
- Your contact information: Include a phone number, email address, and a quick data-collection form. Customers need plenty of calls to action. Fight off spam with a CAPTCHA as well.
- Links to relevant pages: If you know customers have product questions, show them to your Help page. If you have plenty of job seekers, highlight that Jobs page.
Don’t be tempted to clutter up the page with more details and data. Keep things clean and streamlined with this list.
Build the Perfect Contact Us Form
If you’re looking for a way to streamline customer conversations, forms are key. If you build forms correctly, routing questions is a snap.
Your form could include several fields, including:
- Current customer (Y/N)
- Email address
- Phone number
You might be tempted to add all of these fields to your form. The more data you have, the better, right?
When customers face a sea of questions, they tend to click away. Form completion rates and added fields are inversely related.
To keep those conversion rates up and deliver exceptional user experience, only ask critical questions.
10 Exceptional Contact Us Page Examples
I’ve talked a lot about what should and shouldn’t go on a Contact Us page.
These ten companies have lessons anyone can apply.
Streamlined and Simple: Scorpion
Scorpion offers internet marketing services to law firms, hospitals, franchises, and more. The company shows off robust design skills on all other web pages. But this one is remarkable in its simplicity.
Customers answer one simple question with a dropdown. The answer routes them to an appropriate secondary form.
Customers can also skip the hassle of forms altogether, call the number in the top-right corner of the screen, or visit one of three locations listed at the bottom of the page.
Brand Promise First: BarkBox
A subscription service for happy dogs should have a dog’s photo on a Contact Us page. And that dog should look happy. BarkBox has that element covered.
Customers have three different contact options sitting below that big image. They can search FAQs, start a live chat, or send an email. It’s a simple, streamlined interface made for busy dog lovers.
Personality Plus: Kick Point
This Canadian marketing firm kicks off the About Us page with a chatty, conversational tone.
Keep scrolling, and that clever voice keeps speaking. When you reach the bottom of this page, you know just how these employees talk and write.
The cleverness doesn’t impede clear communication. You’re told the company’s address, email address, phone number, and more.
Crisis Communication: Powell’s Books
Powell’s puts customer communication front and center on this Contact Us page. Timely content about shipping delays comes first. Keep scrolling, and you’re taken to email addresses and phone numbers.
Typically, converting Contact Us pages are short. But you can break the rules when the unexpected happens.
Arresting Graphics: Parker Lee
People hire Parker Lee to design logos, websites, and other branded elements. He puts those skills to work on this visually arresting Contact Us page. The page begins with a brand statement, but scrolling past that is a snap.
A simple form with just four fields appears, and a clever map rounds out the page.
Forms Do the Hard Work: Six Leaf Design
This company emphasizes sales on this Contact Us page. A three-field form, with a tiny multiple-choice quiz, gets potential customers a price quote.
A blue button for anxious customers leads right to a 20-minute consult appointment. For companies hoping to emphasize lead generation, this is a smart model to follow.
Friendly Faces: Byte
Who will customers talk to when they reach out? Byte answers this question with photos of real-life customer service reps ready to respond to questions.
Choose from multiple contact formats, including text, email, Facebook message, and email. All of this data is streamlined, so white space surrounds the page.
Product Photography: Freshly
Freshly offers meal-kit delivery services, and an enticing product takes up about half of this Contact Us page. Putting the product first could attract customers to jump into a purchase.
The contact box is the clever bit. Customers can chat, call, text, or skip to email.
This is a simple, friendly interface that puts the product first.
Multi-Location Mastery: Wendy’s
How do you handle inquiries when customers have dozens of locations to choose from? Wendy’s handles this question with a “Find Wendy’s” button at the top of the page.
Customers with questions can text or call a number displayed in big, black text. It’s nearly impossible to miss. A clever, short form rounds out the page.
Short and Sweet: My Own
I put best practices to use on my website’s Contact Us page. I use a drop-down to route questions, and I ask customers to fill out just three fields.
I keep the branding light on this page, but the colors remind my guests that they’re still on my site.
Contact Us Page Do’s and Don’ts
We’ve walked through several examples of pages that convert. And we’ve shared quite a few tips you can put to use right now.
But there’s more to learn.
As you’re working on your Contact Us page, be sure to:
- Be a good journalist. Put the important stuff first. Your visitors are there to connect with you. Make those opportunities easy to find and deliver an exceptional user experience. Save the rest for last.
- Promote your page like a pro. Put a link to your page in your email signature and link it to your social media accounts. Make sure customers know you’re interested in a connection.
- Link to your page. Customers look in the top-right corner of a page for Contact Us links. Make sure each page on your site connects to that critical page.
Before you publish your Contact Us page, be sure to avoid:
- Cluttered design. Don’t fill the space with tons of graphics, jokes, or text blocks. Respect what your consumers are there to do – contact you.
- Overconfidence. Use A/B testing to find the design your customers want. Don’t be overconfident about your design prowess — you might be surprised by what works!
- A desktop-first mentality. Test your site on mobile devices. Try out the form fields. Plenty of customers will visit you on the go; make sure their experience is a good one.
It takes time to design a Contact Us page that converts. Don’t be afraid to slow down, test, and head back to the drawing board. You can’t afford to make mistakes on such an essential piece of your website.
Your Contact Us page is one of the most critical assets on your website. People head here when they want to reach you. Make that communication as quick and painless as possible.
Publish with confidence, and watch those conversion rates. If you don’t see the response you want, change it!
With experimentation and vigilance, you can develop the right Contact Us page that works for your customers, your company, and your community.
Is your current Contact Us page lacking? What can you change to make it more effective?
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How the Small Business Finance Exchange Can Affect Your Business in a Recession: 4 Things You Need to Know
As the novel coronavirus continues to affect our economy, the SBFE remains committed to its mission. Let’s take a look at the Small Business Finance Exchange in a recession – because the chances of our economy going into a recession look rather high right now.
The Small Business Finance Exchange Affects the Way Lenders Do Business
The Small Business Finance Exchange, in a recession, can change the face of business credit. You need to know how. Solid business credit is necessary to business growth always, whether there is a recession going on or not. It is also important to the protection of your personal finances. Without a strong business credit profile, you will have to rely on your personal credit when it comes to business financing.
This is bad is so many ways. It may not seem so if you have great personal credit. The problem comes when you do not have separate business credit. Then anything that affects your business affects your personal score. If something doesn’t work out with the business, your personal credit score suffers.
It can work the opposite way also. A bad personal credit score can affect your ability to get business financing.
The remedy is to ensure your business has its own credit score, and to be certain that score is complete and accurate.
The Small Business Finance Exchange, also known as the SBFE, helps with that. Certain lenders and agencies have access to their data. How do they get your information? Does it affect your business credit? How can it affect your ability to get financing for your business?
What is the Small Business Finance Exchange?
To fully understand the role of the Small Business Finance Exchange in a recession, you need to understand what it is. The SBFE is a not-for-profit entity that gathers data on small businesses from its members. The data is then used to compile comprehensive credit information. Lenders use this information to make credit decisions.
The Small Business Finance Exchange does not lend money. It also does not create or distribute credit reports.
How Does the Small Business Finance Exchange in a Recession Work?
Generally speaking, it works the same way in recession as it does in solid economic times. The impact however, can change. The model they use is self-dubbed a “give-to-get” model. Members provide information about their borrowers. In return they can receive information from the exchange. This information can help them make future lending decisions.
Keep your business protected with our professional business credit monitoring. It’s a worthwhile investment, saving you money even during a recession.
The process starts with members. The members report credit data from those companies that they do business with. This data will include payment history, among other things. This is one reason it is important to make payments on time. When businesses use the Small Business Finance Exchange in a recession, your payment history prior to the recession can affect your business even more.
Next, the SBFE normalizes the raw data into usable information. It then distributes this data to certified vendors. These include credit agencies that have a partnership with the SBFE. The distribution to certified vendors is step three.
Certified Vendors use the information to create comprehensive credit products for distribution to SBFE members only.
What Do Members Get?
Members can request data on any small business to whom they may extend credit, making the Small Business Finance Exchange in a recession hugely impactful. Since they gave information, they have information available to them. That means if you work with member lenders, they have access to even more information that can affect their decision than what is on a standard credit report.
Practically, it looks like this. A lender reports credit information about its current borrowers to the Small Business Finance Exchange. When a new potential borrower comes along, they request a credit report. This report does not come from the SBFE. The request is to one of the credit reporting agencies such as Dun & Bradstreet or Equifax. Because of their membership with the SBFE, they receive an extended report that includes the data received from the SBFE as well as that from D&B.
How Does Using the Small Business Finance Exchange in a Recession Affects Your Business?
There is so much more to a business than how and when they make payments. Making consistent, on-time payments is essential. However, not doing so for a period of time does not always tell the whole story. The Small Business Finance Exchange uses its data to paint a more complete picture so that creditors can be better informed.
The result is that even if your payment history is not pristine, the use of information from the Small Business Finance Exchange in a recession can be a good thing for your business. Their mission is to be an advocate for the safe and secure growth of small business. They know that lenders need the most complete and accurate information available to make a viable credit decision.
The Small Business Finance Exchange in a Recession Can Help Your Business in 4 Ways
1. It Can Help You Build Business Credit.
Strive to do business with SBFE members. When you do, you know your information is being reported, which means you are building business credit. How do you know if your lender or vendor is a member?
Keep your business protected with our professional business credit monitoring. It’s a worthwhile investment, saving you money even during a recession.
Ask them. If they are not, considered mentioning that they become a member. However, there are enough members in the network that it should not be hard to find one.
2. They Can Help You Grow Your Business.
By working with members, you ensure your complete information is being reported. When creditors receive your information, you know they get a complete credit picture and not just one piece of it. If you are making your payments and working to build strong business credit, this can only help you.
3. You May Have Increased Funding Options.
The data available about your business from the Small Business Finance Exchange in a recession could open up additional funding opportunities that may not be available to you otherwise.
4. They Can Help You Make Wise Credit Decisions.
If you are a small business that lends money to other businesses and has the ability to report that information, you can join the SBFE yourself. You will gain access to information about borrowers available exclusively to members. This information can help you make better decisions about your own business lending.
Who Can Become a Member?
Anyone who has the ability to report their small business lending information to the SBFE can become a member. The only way to gain access to the information that the exchange has in their Data Warehouse is to join.
Members include all types of lending institutions including banks, credit unions, and alternative lenders.
Certified vendors are agencies that have a partnership with the Small Business Finance Exchange. They distribute the data they receive from the SBFE. They do this by creating credit analysis products using the information that the Small Business Finance Exchange provides. Then they report the data to members who request a credit report on a business that is included.
Certified Vendors include Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet, and most recently, LexisNexis Risk Solutions. Of course, Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet are credit reporting agencies. LexisNexis sells lending risk insurance products.
While other credit agencies are available to lenders, when they are a member of the Small Business Finance Exchange, in a recession especially, they can get a double shot. If they utilize one of these certified vendors, they get the benefit of the vendor’s own information plus data received from the Small Business Finance Exchange. In a recession, this can be an essential link to risk mitigation and solid decision making.
What Goes Around Comes Around
As much as doing business with members of the exchange can help you, it can hurt you if you do not do things properly.
If you are doing business with SBFE members you eliminate the potential to not have any business credit. By default, members are reporting your information and therefore, you have business credit.
However, if you do not handle your business properly, the report members are getting about your business may not be favorable.
Members contract to report both positive and negative information.
How Do You Know If Data Related to Your Business is In the Warehouse?
If you are doing business with member entities, your data is there. How do you know if the companies you do business with are members? Ask them.
What Kind of Data do They Have on My Business?
They have identifying information related to your business. This would include your business name, DUNS number, EIN, address, and NAICS code.
They also have both positive and negative payment information. Bills paid to vendors, suppliers and business partners on time or early are all included. It also includes bills paid late, or not at all, to suppliers, business partners, and vendors.
The limits on your credit accounts, payment information on lease payments, and credit card payment history are also included.
What Action Do I need to Take?
The Small Business Finance Exchange, in a recession, can benefit small businesses. They want to see these businesses thrive and grow, and one way they do that is by offering comprehensive credit information to those who lend them money to do so.
As a small business, you are responsible for your business credit. You control what information ends up on your credit report. What can you do?
- Pay your bills consistently on time
- Do business with SBFE members.
- If the businesses you currently work with are not members, encourage them to join.
- Join the SBFE if you are eligible. (Remember you cannot self-report your own information, but by joining, you can make better credit decisions for your business.)
- Monitor your credit information
Keep your business protected with our professional business credit monitoring. It’s a worthwhile investment, saving you money even during a recession.
A Word on Credit Monitoring
There are a couple of ways to monitor credit. Remember though, that the Small Business Finance Exchange does not create or distribute any type of credit report.
You can request a report from one of the credit agencies such as Dun & and Bradstreet or Equifax. Even though they are members of the SBFE however, you cannot see that information specific to the exchange unless you are a member as well. You cannot be a member unless you extend credit to small businesses.
Working with members of the Small Business Finance Exchange in a recession is still beneficial, but it doesn’t really help with credit monitoring.
You can also join a credit monitoring service. This will give you continuous access to the information on your report, including your credit score and what is affecting it.
Use the information. Look for ways to build your business credit and report any mistakes. Send the agency a detailed explanation of what is incorrect, what the correct information is, and copies of all supporting documents available.
How to Take Advantage of the Small Business Finance Exchange in a Recession
It is a good idea to work with SBFE members regardless of the economic client. In a recession however, it can be even more beneficial for all the reasons already stated. The most prominent reason is that, by doing business with SBFE member, you ensure lenders see the most complete picture of your credit possible.
If the recession has been hard on you and you have missed a payment or two, those negative marks could have a reduced impact. This is based on information lenders receive from the SBFE. It may not make the bad things go away, but it can definitely add in other information that can help.
The Small Business Finance Exchanges in a Recession – Exists to Help Small Businesses
By offering a more complete credit picture to lenders, the SBFE ensures that more businesses have the financing available that they need to grow. As businesses grow, more businesses can be born. This is how we come out of a recession. Successful business begets successful business. And before you know it the economy is thriving again. It’s a win/win for everyone and the Small Business Finance Exchange, in a recession and out, is a superhero to all. Make your payments, do business with SBFE members, and your business can survive and even thrive during the recession.
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