B2Basics: 4 Tips to Beef Up Cyber-Security for Your Small Business

cyber security laptopIf your company conducts business online, stores sensitive information on the organization’s computers or even does something as innocuous as sending emails, you’re in danger of being compromised by criminals. These cyber-attacks are being carried out on small businesses at an alarming rate and cause all kinds of damage including but not limited to loss of data, loss of income and, arguably worse than either one of those, loss of your customer’s trust.
But don’t fear because this week we’re taking a look at a few ways that you can shore up your team’s security and avoid all of these headaches. Continue reading “B2Basics: 4 Tips to Beef Up Cyber-Security for Your Small Business”

4 Spooktacular Halloween Festivities to Get Your Office in the Spirit

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Orange and red leaves blanket the ground, the temperatures are falling and football is back in full force which means that fall here and Halloween is on the horizon. This week we’re helping you and your team get into the spirit of the season with four ways to celebrate the day at your workplace. Continue reading “4 Spooktacular Halloween Festivities to Get Your Office in the Spirit”

B2Basics: 3 Tips for Creating or Revamping Your Logo

As a company that has been imprinting promotional products for over 120 years, we know a thing or two about logos! Custom artwork is what we do! One of the most important aspects of your entire business, your logo acts as the first impression/face of your brand and ultimately communicates your message without saying a word. Sound a little overwhelming? We understand, so we’ve gotten some of our favorite graphic artists (who just happen to work in our creative department) to pull together some tips to help you create or revamp your logo. Continue reading “B2Basics: 3 Tips for Creating or Revamping Your Logo”

Small Business Saturday: Start Planning NOW!

Wedged in between the sales juggernauts known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday is another holiday: Small Business Saturday. This day celebrates the “little guys,” those businesses upon which our great nation was built: mom-and-pop shops, eclectic boutiques, entrepreneurs going it alone, and the corner stores that have been around for decades. Continue reading “Small Business Saturday: Start Planning NOW!”

Hashtag Do’s and Don’ts for Social Media Marketing


We see them all over Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and recently they returned to LinkedIn. They’re hashtags, and ever since the first one appeared on Twitter in 2007, they’ve reigned as social media users’ favorite tool for starting and joining conversations.

For social media marketers, hashtags offer the chance to increase your reach, attract new followers, and gain new customers — as long as you use them wisely.

Even marketing powerhouses can get hashtags horribly wrong … and suffer the consequences. During the “Arab Spring” uprising, for example, news organizations and tweeters around the world used the hashtag #Cairo to keep up with the latest developments. The marketing team at Kenneth Cole tried to capitalize on the tag’s popularity with an ill-advised tweet reading “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online.”

Cole was widely criticized for their insensitivity and they issued an apology soon after. But the damage had already been done, and some say the brand still has not recovered.

So if you’re looking to grow your brand on social media with hashtags, make sure you’re aware of the do’s and don’ts.

Just Getting Started With Hashtags?

If you’re new to the whole hashtag thing, you’ll want to check out a good tutorial and learn the basics of how they function. SproutSocial offers a good overview of how hashtags work on each social network, and HubSpot’s hashtag tutorial is worth a read as well.

Hashtag Do’s

  1. Do your homework. Spend some time on your preferred social networks to discover which hashtags are trending in conversations related to your product or service. Search for your targeted keywords and see which hashtags tend to appear in the posts that turn up.
  2. Do be specific. Think about the target audience you’re trying to reach and the specific types of conversations they’re likely to follow. If you’re marketing for a beauty salon, for example, the hashtag #hair is too broad to drive much targeted engagement, but #fallhairstyles can attract users looking for style ideas for the fall season.
  3. Do appeal to local audiences. If yours is a local business, use hashtags specific to your city or neighborhood. For example, if you run a restaurant in the Lakeview area of Chicago, including both #lakeview and #chicago in your tweets will increase your chances of coming up in searches related to the area.
  4. Do tailor hashtag use to the social network. Hashtags work similarly across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but each network has its own set of best practices for using them. Learn the hashtag norms for each social network and adjust your hashtag use accordingly.

Hashtag Don’ts

  1. Don’t overuse them. Posts that are jam-packed with hashtags look spammy and are less likely to attract the audience you’re trying to appeal to. Aim for no more than three per post; if you want to see which hashtags work best, try some controlled A/B testing and see what results.
  2. Don’t be insensitive. Unless you’re chiming in to offer genuine condolences, support, or encouragement, stay away from hashtags involving natural disasters or other situations that could lead to loss of life or property. (Remember the Kenneth Cole incident.)
  3. Don’t use all caps in hashtags — ever. Sometimes brands make the mistake of using all caps in their hashtags to make them stand out … and they do, but not in a good way. Using all caps in social media is the equivalent of yelling, so unless your hashtag is an acronym, keep it lower case.

In social media marketing, growing your brand awareness — the right kind of brand awareness — is the name of the game. By using hashtags wisely and strategically, you can create positive impressions for your brand as you work your way into targeted searches and conversations. Once you have a good handle on what works — and know how to steer clear of what doesn’t — you’ll be wielding hashtags like a seasoned pro … and reaping the rewards.

July 7 is World Chocolate Day

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Make life sweeter for you and your customers on World Chocolate Day!

Did you know that July 7 is World Chocolate Day? According to tradition, chocolate was first introduced in Europe on July 7, 1550, probably in Spain after the explorer Cortes brought the delicacy back from Mexico, and it was love at first taste.

Today chocolate is widely regarded as the king of all confections. No Christmas or Easter celebration would be complete without it, and on Valentine’s Day it ranks as one of our favorite gifts to express love and affection.

Here are a few fun facts to get you in the World Chocolate Day spirit — and to share with your customers:

  • Cacao tree cultivation dates back to the Mayans, who used it to brew ceremonial drinks and even used the beans as currency.
  • The majority of cacao trees grow within 20 degrees north or south of the equator.
  • During the American Revolutionary War, soldiers were sometimes paid in chocolate.
  • Dark chocolate is loaded with health-boosting minerals, including iron, magnesium, and potassium.
  • The chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1937 by Ruth Wakefield, proprietor of the “Toll House Inn.”
  • Every year, Americans spend $16 billion on chocolate … and eat 2.8 billion pounds of it.
  • White chocolate isn’t actually chocolate — it’s made from cocoa butter.

No doubt about it — chocolate is a special treat, and smart marketers understand that when you give customers chocolate, you know they’ll feel appreciated.

Here are a few sweet ideas to help you build buzz for your brand on World Chocolate Day:

  • Give a Belgian chocolate bar, branded with your name and logo, to every customer who visits your location on July 7.
  • Surprise your very best customers with a premium gift like a box of sea-salt caramel chocolates, or a chocolate-themed gift set.
  • Invite your social media followers to share their favorite chocolate indulgences, tagging your page and using the hashtag #WorldChocolateDay.
  • Restaurants and cafes can offer a free chocolate dessert — or a chocolate coin — to guests who visit on July 7 and mention that it’s World Chocolate Day.
  • Create a fun chocolate trivia quiz (using a free quiz creation tool like Typeform) and invite your social media followers to test their “chocolate IQ.”
  • If your business is local, share a list of the best “chocolate destinations” — spots where you can get the best chocolate ice cream, the best chocolate cake, etc. — in your area.
  • Remember to share the love with your employees! Surprise each team member by having a bag of Belgian chocolate waiting for them when they arrive at work on July 7.

And don’t forget one of the sweetest ways to celebrate World Chocolate Day — treating yourself to your favorite chocolate indulgence!

May 5-11 is National Small Business Week 2019

NSBW Social Media Banner

National Small Business Week is a time when we salute the small businesses and owners that make up the foundation of the American economy.

Did you know that according to statistics from 2018 from SBA.gov, there were over 30 million small businesses in the U.S. employing almost 59 million workers? That’s 47.5% of the private workforce!

We applaud small business owners, employees, and all of those organizations that work tirelessly on their behalf, such as your area chambers of commerce, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Here at the Small Business Know-How blog, we often provide articles full of helpful ideas and strategies for small business owners of all kinds, both commercial and non-profits, and for the people who work within them, like HR people, marketing folks, and sales teams.

Here’s a roundup of four of our most popular and helpful articles from small business resources:

So go ahead, get the word out and promote this worthwhile event that celebrates you and your business! Check out everything happening at the SBA.gov event website https://www.sba.gov/nsbw. Here’s just a sampling of what’s planned:

  • Free social media banners ready for you to use on your own page to promote the event
  • In-person and virtual events you can join in on
  • A virtual conference with a range of speakers on business focused topics
  • Twitter chat #SmallBusinessWeek, @SBAgov

Check it out, then, stop back and tell us: how are you celebrating national small business week?