Grow Your Business with Iron Roots Marketing Strategies

There are so many different elements that go into creating a successful growth marketing strategy. Iron Roots understands this better than most. The company offers an array of services specifically to help clients grow through data-driven marketing campaigns.

But the team also has to manage their own growth marketing strategy. Luckily, Zoho Social provides tools that allow them to seamlessly curate and analyze content. And it even integrates with the rest of their business ecosystem, largely in the Zoho One operating system for business. Read about the company, the founder’s journey, and their own growth journey below.

What the Business Does

Offers growth marketing services.

Founder and CEO Saru Saadeh told Small Business Trends, “Growth and customer acquisition are our specialties.”

The Austin-based company offers a wide array of services under this umbrella. These include growth marketing strategy, data analytics, media buying, social media, and influencer buying.

Business Niche

Providing a one-stop-shop.

Saadeh says, “We handle everything in house. So we can build a strategy around your goals and then design, write, edit, deploy, and manage everything under one roof.”

How the Business Got Started

After a lifetime of entrepreneurial ventures.

Saadeh explains, “I grew up in a family of restaurant owners. But I was never a chef — I really gravitated toward the marketing side.”

Through the years, he tried many unique marketing strategies with the restaurant. He even worked on an early version of influencer marketing before the concept really took off.

Then in college, he used these skills to plan events on campus. He and some friends even booked a two-city tour with rapper Chamillionaire. So afterward, it was natural for him to venture into the marketing world.

growth marketing

Biggest Win

Getting to learn about the world by working with different business clients.

Saadeh says, “I love taking on challenges in new industries and applying well known success tactics and seeing how they work for different industries.”

Biggest Challenge

Scaling a service-based business.

Saadeh explains, “Selling a service requires expertise in a given field. And it can be tough to scale because there are so many moving parts. So you have to focus on finding incredible, talented people who work well together.”

Advice for Other Business Owners

Be willing to take risks.

Saadeh says, “Don’t be scared to let go of key components of your business. Don’t fear errors, mistakes, or failures. They’re a prerequisite to success and growth, especially for small business owners.”

Secret Weapon

Zoho Social.

Zoho Social is the social media component of the Zoho One suite. Iron Roots began using it a few years ago. At the time, it was one of a small list of options that allowed for posting directly to Instagram. And since they already used other Zoho tools, it was the obvious choice.

Saadeh says the team loves being able to schedule posts and automate parts of their social strategy. And the intuitive interface allows them to spend more time on things like strategy and actually growing the business.

He adds, “It has helped us by allowing us more time to focus on the broader picture instead of the day-to-day.”

Favorite Feature

The Zoho Social Chrome extension.

The platform’s Chrome extension makes it easy to quickly share and save content from various online sources. It’s also the perfect way for multiple team members to work together. Everyone can add things. And then they can go in and organize items into part of a larger strategy.

Saadeh adds, “Our team uses it to instantly syndicate content online and curate things. We really enjoy using it to build a content calendar. And there are even analytics built in.”

Zoho One Benefits

Native integrations.

In addition to Zoho Social, Iron Roots also uses Zoho Invoice and Books, among many other Zoho tools, to run the front and back end of the business. So the tools work together seamlessly without the need for tons of different accounts with various providers.

Saadeh says, “The primary value is that all of the products are integrated. So they speak to one another natively without having to set up different integrations. It’s a very low code environment. Even with the off-the-shelf settings, it’s right what we need. So we’ve been able to basically do things at scale.”

More in: Marketing Strategy, Zoho Corporation

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24 Popular Gifts B2B Firms Sent to Customers in 2020

Sweet treats, tumblers, and e-commerce gift cards were among the most popular gifts B2B firms sent to buyers and customers in 2020, according to recent research from Sendoso.

The report was based on internal data from Sendoso, a platform that enables marketers, salespeople, and customer experience specialists to send a wide range of physical gifts and e-gifts. The researchers also surveyed 750 B2B decision-makers.

Cookies and Yeti tumblers were the most popular direct sends and physical sends to B2B buyers and customers on Sendoso’s platform in 2020.

Six of the eight most popular gifts overall were e-gifts, with gift cards ranking as the most popular digital send on Sendoso’s platform in 2020.

B2B decision-makers say the biggest benefit of gift campaigns is to stand out/rise above the noise of competitors.

advantages to using gifts for customer engagement

About the research: The report was based on internal data from Sendoso, a platform that enables marketers, salespeople, and customer experience specialists to send a wide range of different physical gifts and e-gifts. The researchers also surveyed 750 B2B decision-makers.

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Twin Peaks Meets Fargo Meets Alf: Resident Alien

Syfy’s Resident Alien starring Alan Tudyk (Firefly), who plays “Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle,” an alien who has taken on the identity of a small-town Colorado doctor. CoSA VFX is the primary visual effects vendor for the 10-episode series and VFX house Artifex Studios added 685 shots, amid COVID-workflow adjustments in 2020.

CoSA VFX Animation

Resident Alien has offered multiple opportunities for CoSA VFX‘s Animation team to shine, from environments to CG characters and everything else in between, and also for the team to have quite a bit of fun in the process.

“It was fun. They let us experiment to find the character. We did a lot of things that were probably even a little outlandish, looking back at it,” comments CoSA’s animator Roger Vizard, adding that Harry the alien had a lot of emotional values that we do they try to touch upon in the animation. “He’s a brilliant character to work with”.

Getting the alien on a horse was probably the biggest challenge the animators faced, as the nine-foot-tall alien was certainly larger than the stunt actor riding the horse in the raw footage. To accomplish this, the team watched and studied how the horse would react and animated Harry with matching interactions. Additionally, the horse was match-moved for seamless integration with dynamic elements and the animated character. This featured sequence for the third episode, where an ordinarily classic Western moment becomes something else entirely.

CoSA’s lead animator Teri Shellen commented that he hopes this kind of work continues to come to the studio, as these types of shots are very rewarding for the animators to tackle. “When we get episodes like this, they’re treasured, because we actually really get to get into character development and really push that field in our studio,”

CoSA also worked on many of the environment shots and in particular the pilot episode’s ship crashing to earth after being hit by lightning.


Artifex was involved early in setting key environments for “Resident Alien” and continued to add embellishments or build-outs dependent on scene requirements. In episode 6, the studio augmented stock plates to add sweeping snow-covered mountain ranges, while episode 8 saw a build-out of practical glaciers into a full environment.

The glacier sequence in episode 8 in particular demanded that virtually every moment was touched in some way by the VFX team. Artifex used matte painting, CG extensions, smoothing and alteration of the set, and texture work to subtly add snow and ice.

Artifex also did creature animation, in episode 7 their team created a CGI octopus which Alan Tudyk interacts with through aquarium glass. Their conversation suggests that Harry’s species and octopuses are closely related, something which Harry himself later states to Asta Twelvetrees. Nathan Fillion previously co-starred with Tudyk in the 2003 series Firefly and its concluding film Serenity. Fillion is not the only fan favourite guest star on the show, Sci-Fi acting legend Linda Hamilton plays General McCallister, a high-ranking U.S. military officer.

The photo-real octopod inspires a later scene in episode 9 Artifex had to supplant Tudyk’s leg with a tentacle. For the scene, the team painted out what was visible of Alan Tudyk’s leg, and added the CG leg, complete with flailing animation, and interaction with the bacon.

“The animation had to find a sweet spot that suited the vocal performance accompanying it,” said Artifex VFX Supervisor Rob Geddes. “We wanted to be careful to provide a grabbing visual without taking the viewer out of the moment by being too intentionally cartoonish or farcical.”

For the Day for Night (DFN) sequence above, the scene was shot in full daylight, but needed to shift in the edit, making it into a night sequence.  This required extensive roto, with matte painted elements to introduce lit building interiors, and streetlights.

Rounding out the work was the inside of the spaceship in episode 10, the season finale. Artifex designed and integrated the spaceship interior inside and around the green screen set.

Inside the Spaceship

The project spanned roughly a year due to delays imposed by COVID, with both internal and external adjustments being made to reflect the realities of working remotely.

Hardware/software used during the project included Maya / V-Ray for modeling, animation, and rendering; tracking in Syntheyes, matte painting in Photoshop, compositing in Nuke, scheduling and production tracking in ftrack, and Meshroom for photogrammetry.

Season 2

Executive producer and showrunner Chris Sheridan (Family Guy) and his talented creative staff have announced that the show has just been picked up for a second season and will return soon to Syfy.

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Eight Ad Tech Innovators' Hopes and Expectations for 2021

Although the ad tech industry wasn’t hit the hardest by the pandemic, it still felt ripples of the crisis from other businesses. Advertising growth was stalled: Predicted media ad spend for 2021 dropped from $758B to $738B as a result.

Apart from the global recession that benefited some technologies and disrupted others, ad tech went through local disruptions that prompted industry leaders to think outside the box. The death of cookies and IDFA, new privacy regulations, ad format popularity shifts, and the arrival of new technologies all contributed to a sense of uncertainty.

To shed some light on what we can expect in ad tech for 2021, we spoke to eight innovators of ad tech from Google, LiveRamp, Epom, and others.

Which 2020 events affected ad tech the most, and how can we deal with the consequences?

Michael Sweeney, head of marketing at Clearcode

From my point of view, the announcements by Google and Apple about their respective privacy changes were the biggest events of 2020 in the ad tech industry.

Although these events did have an impact when they forced companies to assess their current situation and start planning for these changes, the real impact will be felt when these changes come into effect in 2021 (Apple’s changes to IDFA) and 2022 (Google Chrome’s changes to third-party cookies).

Abhinav Choudhri, ad ops director at AdPushup

Soon after the pandemic was declared, the world was shut down to an extent that advertising budgets took a nosedive. While the situation is still being stabilized as several countries are opening up—hence, the advertising budgets are going up—it was an unpredictable year.

It seems like either the advertisers will have to find and develop technologies to access user data while respecting their privacy to show them targeted ads, or they’ll have to kiss all of it goodbye soon.

How will ad tech deal with the privacy issues that arose?

Jörg Vogelsang, head of publisher growth at Liveramp and owner at 101con

Advertising as a kind of commercial communication between brands and consumers can only work if it is built on trust. Ultimately, this trust is a prerequisite to allowing any commercial activity in the virtual space; it is the prerequisite for effectiveness in digital advertising.

Overall, I would expect three main things to happen in 2021. First, there are still many companies that will need to implement a CMP. Second, data protection officers in different European countries will continue to scrutinize existing CMP implementations. And third, advertising technology identifiers will get closer to CMPs, or even these two tech pieces will become fully integrated.

Abhinav Choudhri, ad ops director at AdPushup

While Google has issued a death warrant for cookies by 2022, it also pitched Privacy Sandbox as an alternative. The project is still in its infancy, and no code is out yet for marketers to analyze. It is clear that the giant is planning to keep its stronghold in advertising using anonymized signals (not cookies) from within its browser.

Michael Sweeney, head of marketing at Clearcode

Despite the challenges around data collection and identity, I believe that data will play a bigger role in programmatic advertising in the future than it has in the past, but privacy will be the key element. There are many companies that are bringing in the future of privacy-friendly data management. Examples include Permutive and InfoSum, which both raised funding in 2020.

What ad tech trends do you expect to flourish and emerge in 2021?

Jörg Vogelsang, head of publisher growth at Liveramp and owner at 101con

In countries like Germany, industry organizations are predicting a growth in programmatic advertising of more than 8% for 2021. This will also be powered by more formats becoming available. Omnichannel advertising is becoming more and more of a reality. What had been restricted to desktop and mobile will become available for the (connected) TV, audio, gaming, and on high street with digital out of home.

Jakub Vachal, Sr. app specialist at Google

Utilizing machine-learning and automation in user acquisition is only likely to accelerate in adoption. Many digital networks are introducing more products relying on machine-learning to best optimize companies’ user-acquisition activity.

This enables businesses to free up resources and be much more strategic about their marketing activities and focus on the big picture and its opportunities: a continued rise of at-home online activities and increase in screen time, accelerating the shift to mobile-first behavior, and increasing customer expectations for products to deliver amazing user experiences.

Stéphane Printz, managing director at Comcast and Sr. regional director at FreeWheel

In 2021, we think that the CTV component will be a fundamental element of the media planning of many advertisers with an approach that we call “total video” advertising that many marketers are already embracing.

Between September and October 2020 we conducted a study together with CoLab, an independent research company, by submitting a questionnaire to marketing professionals from the main European countries (Italy, France, Germany, Spain, UK), where 68% of German marketers are forecasting an increase in their investments in CTV devices in 2021.

Abhinav Choudhri, ad ops director at AdPushup

The invention of 5G is taking the base to a new level: The audience and consumption of content online are going to increase as the increase in internet speeds worldwide gives more opportunity to digital publishers and advertisers to capture more of an audience.

Vijay Ram Kumar, founder & CEO at Automatad

Programmatic audio. We’re still scratching the surface, and several giants are looking to get into audio ads, including Spotify and Google. The next one would be mobile commerce-enabled formats. On the quest to diversify revenue, publishers are looking to leverage commerce, and it’s working, especially for those with first-party data.

How will white-label ad tech evolve this decade?

Lina Lugova, head of marketing at Epom

Although white-label software is quite expensive compared to regular SaaS software, we are still seeing an ever-increasing demand for white-labeling. Companies with $20,000+ ad spend are ready to pay for platform ownership and buy directly from SSPs without markups.

Another option for companies is to acquire a niche tech solution to enrich their own tech stack and compete with walled gardens. Ad tech deals were on the rise before the pandemic (remember how Roku bought DataXu, and Nike bought predictive analytics startup Celect), and I think we’ll see its recovery in the coming years.

Which user acquisition strategies are no longer working and should be given up in 2021?

Jakub Vachal, Sr. app specialist at Google

Many tools and strategies currently rely on device IDs as the way to identify users and inform businesses’ user-acquisition activities. Not only the introduction of the IDFA collection opt-in pop-up introduced by Apple but also the overall increase in consumers’ awareness of data collection transparency and security will push companies to tailor their strategies to the new reality.

Solutions developing themselves in a privacy-first environment and companies adapting their strategies to still be able to effectively approach and acquire customers are going to come out stronger than before—building a strong relationship with their consumers while also retaining the main benefits of performance marketing.

Your advice for brands and ad networks: how should they advertise in 2021 and which tools should they focus on?

Michael Sweeney, head of marketing at Clearcode

I think the first step is to assess the current situation and really understand what impact these privacy changes will have on your advertising strategies. The good thing is that there are already solutions that can help solve some of these challenges. There isn’t a 1-to-1 replacement for third-party cookies or the IDFA, but there are solutions that can still help you achieve your goals.

For tech companies, in particular, there’s never been a better time, or a more pressing time, to invest in innovation.

Stéphane Printz, managing director at Comcast and Sr. regional director at FreeWheel

Always citing the research conducted together with CoLab, we identified the current perception in terms of benefits for agencies and advertisers. The responses highlighted a clear perception of the advantages offered by Advanced TV platforms from the point of view of efficiency, targeting, and reach, therefore across the entire purchase funnel.

Lina Lugova, head of marketing at Epom

The common trap advertisers fall into is picking all-in-one solutions for one provider. However, each provider has its own flagships and laggards, so such a decision is not always the most effective.

My advice to brands is to be more mindful about their in-house stack and to be able to compile a unique puzzle from the offerings available on the market. As for ad networks, pay attention to the rising star formats and put your focus on innovation before everyone else.

Yaroslav Kholod, director of programmatic operations at Admixer

While the trend of in-housing programmatic buying remains one of the top priorities for brands, I recommend paying attention to several factors when choosing a platform to work with:

  • Privacy. Does the platform comply with local privacy regulations and practices?
  • Technical capabilities. Does the platform satisfy the brand’s targeting needs? Does it have capabilities for creative management and data management?
  • Inventory. Does it have access to audiences across different channels and environments?
  • Transparency. Does it disclose all details of the inventory performance and supply path?

* * *

The major concerns of all the featured experts are data and privacy issues. Even though Google, iAB, Liveramp, and other ad tech giants are working on unified solutions that work for everyone in the industry, their development efforts are far from the upshot. But as the death of the cookie is nigh, the ad tech industry is pressed for time and can expect a uniform solution by the end of 2021.

The expansion of available ad format offering and bold experiments with omnichannel, rich media, and cross-device advertising are other stations to stop by in this new year. CTV, DOOH, audio programmatic ads, and interactive ad units will be available soon across DSPs, just like mobile formats.

2021 will be a year of trust and genuine transparency. Users expect not only loud words but also strong actions from brands and tech providers worldwide.

It may be challenging, but the “hopes and expectations” for the next 12 months sound more like requirements we have no choice but to comply with.

*Disclaimer: All the responses featured above are the experts’ personal thoughts and not the official stances of their companies.

More Resources on Ad Tech 2021

Advertising to the Developer & Tech Community: A B2B Guide

Programmatic Advertising Trends: Top Tactics, Challenges, and Metrics

The Anatomy and Current State of Programmatic Advertising [Infographic]

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Smallest Businesses Seeing Slower Sales Since Pandemic

Small businesses with ten employees or less are seeing slower sales since pre-pandemic times. This was the finding of a report by Skynova, online invoicing specialists for small businesses.

Skynova surveyed more than 1,000 professionals to find out how digital changes have impacted their business and employees during the health crisis.

Proficiency in Technology and Shifting Operations Online

The survey found that 37% of small businesses are most likely to have worse sales compared to before Covid-19 struck compared to larger companies. 63% of those surveyed within this size of business said they have not shifted operations online. 46% of businesses with fewer than ten employees identify as very proficient with technology.

Larger businesses with 50 – 99 employees are most likely to report better sales since pre-pandemic times. 81% of this size of business have shifted operations online. 60% of these survey participants say they are technologically proficient. These businesses are also most likely to have more staff since March 2020.

The findings of the survey provide important insight for small businesses as lockdown restrictions are eased and markets start to open. It shows the importance of being active online and being proficient with technology. Digital proficiency should not be confined to larger businesses. Small businesses should be proactive online to garner greater engagement with customers and ultimately make more sales.

As the authors of the report write:

“Despite pandemic pressure causing companies to go remote, companies with the highest digital proficiency were the most likely to increase their online presence. As technology proficiency decreased, so too did the likelihood of the company going online during the pandemic.

But not taking work online was detrimental to some companies’ success. While the most proficient companies saw the most significant increase in sales, the least proficient companies saw the most significant decrease in sales when compared to pre-pandemic times.”

Which Digital Channels are Small Businesses Using

The study also looked at the types of digital channels small and mid-size businesses are prioritizing in their online activity. 70% of professionals working for businesses with ten employees or fewer, said they are most likely to favor Facebook for the majority of their online presence. This was followed by YouTube (46%) and Instagram (36%).

Mid-size businesses with 50 – 99 employees favor Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 66%, 61% and 50% of participants say they rely on the channels the most respectively.

Digital Goals and Priorities

The research also explored the different digital goals of businesses, which varied by company size. 57% of respondents say that improving customer experiences is their primary digital presence goal. 45% say sales and marketing was their principal reason for being active online. Expansion and market growth were also hailed as leading priorities, alongside operations and service delivery improvement.

Large businesses with more than 500 employees were likelier to report service delivery improvement, talent sourcing and employee experience as priorities compared to small businesses. Businesses with fewer than ten employees deem improving customer experience, sales and markets, and new products and services as top online activity priorities.

Skynova’s research provides useful insight for small businesses as to what other small businesses and larger competitors are prioritising in terms of digital activity. It also shows the importance of adapting to new climates, in which a digital presence is gaining even greater value in maintaining relationships with customers. Failing to improve both technological and digital proficiency can be detrimental to small business success.

Image: Depositphotos

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Three Ways to Optimize Your B2B Direct Marketing Program in 2021

As a B2B marketer, you’ve experienced how the circumstances of 2020 increased the complexities of your direct marketing strategy and, in turn, its effectiveness.

Connecting with your professional audience at their homes rather than in their offices has encouraged marketers to re-examine their strategy and available tactics.

By using a data-first approach to customer retention and the development of an engaging multichannel experiences, you can optimize your B2B direct marketing program to increase conversions and customer retention in today’s market.

1. Activate your first-party data

Most marketers would agree that Data is the world’s most valuable resource. But the impending demise of third-party cookies and increasing desire for a more personalized buying experience has caused many marketers to take a closer look at the customer insights and behavior metrics available within their own, first-party data sources.

A robust customer relationships management (CRM) program will not only give you a competitive advantage but also allow you to develop more targeted and personalized strategies that will resonate with your audience and protect your investment.

Start the process by conducting a comprehensive data audit to identify what variables are most relevant to your business and selling strategy—and what might be missing. Then, prioritize completing those fields throughout your contact records.

The COVID-19 era of remote work has prompted prospects to open the door and receive B2B direct marketing communications at their home offices. As you work to build complete profiles, include personal contact information, such as home address and personal email address.

Data append and identity graph technologies allow you to combine all your online and offline data sources (such as social media accounts, e-commerce platforms, apps, and direct mail history) to find buyers across multiple devices and locations.

2. Treat retention as the new acquisition

Even when budgets are tight, you are still expected to meet your revenue target. Shifting your strategy from customer acquisition to customer retention can provide higher returns for your marketing spend.

That said, maintaining loyalty throughout the unique circumstances of 2020 proved more difficult than in the past. A whopping 80% of B2B buyers have swapped vendors in the past year, Accenture research found—and the more frequently buyers make purchases, the more likely they are to switch vendors. The same study reported that 21% of buyers claimed to be dissatisfied with a lack of personalized pricing and offers.

So how do you keep your best and most frequent customers happy?

Personalization turns generic marketing into a meaningful connection and plays a pivotal role in creating satisfying relationships. More than half of people say they feel connected to a brand when they feel that brand understands them and their desires.

Segment your CRM data to ensure your messaging is personalized and relevant to each of your customer groups by addressing their unique needs and pain points, then nurture them to another conversion on a relevant channel.

As for direct mail, 6 out of 10 consumers say they feel it is more personal and trustworthy than other marketing channels, according to USPS research. Moreover, more than 40% of marketers rely on mail’s subconscious influence to drive customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

Progressive technology and data advancements have continued to optimize the versatility and effectiveness of print media in a digital world. Variable printing data (VPD) allows you to apply your freshened-up CRM data to craft persona-based mailers by swapping elements of your direct mail piece (such as text, colors, or images) from one piece to the next without interrupting the printing process. That makes every piece relevant to each individual buyer on your mailing list, naturally increasing its impact.

Exclusive offers, personalized invitations, and feedback requests can be triggered by a variety of events such as stage in the buyer journey, website activity, or dormant periods to reactive purchase interest and engagement.

3. Create a multichannel experience

B2B buyers are also consumers, so it is realistic to assume their professional buying preferences can mirror that of their personal buying preferences.

One-third of those surveyed in a CMO Council study said they expect direct mail to be part of their ideal communications mix. More than 80% of marketers agree that including mail in their multichannel mix has a positive impact on response rates and ROI, according to industry research.

Including mail packages in your B2B direct marketing strategy, especially at a time when 33% of workers are at home, will enhance overall customer experience and support diversified online and offline buyer preferences.

Content bingeing has become a social norm, so it is no surprise that a B2B buyer binges 13 pieces of content, on average, before making a purchase, as shown in recent studies. Determine how you can incorporate the natural storytelling benefit of direct mail into your selling process to lengthen prospect interactions.

To encourage your prospects to dive into your piece, use a variety of educational elements, such as product specs and comparisons, reviews, and success stories. Incorporate interactive digital elements (QR codes or PURLs) within the package to link prospects to online video content, let them request product samples, or start the RFP process.

Use online intent signals to trigger retargeted mailings and provide a seamless customer journey as researching buyers engage with your organization between channels and platforms, naturally moving them closer to your desired action.

* * *

The 2020 effect will continue to influence your B2B direct marketing strategy in 2021, and likely for years to come. Maximize and activate your first-party data to provide a holistic view of your audience and your competitive edge, then use those insights to build a relevant and personalized retention program and appeal to buyer preferences with an intentional multichannel approach that makes it easy to do business with you, both online and offline.

And, most important, stay agile by closely watching campaign performance and testing across multiple channels to improve results.

More Resources on B2B Direct Marketing

A Direct Effect: Direct Mail + Digital = Better Marketing Results [Infographic]

Back to Basics in Direct Marketing

How Direct Mail Can Cut Through the Pandemic Marketing Clutter (And How to Obtain Those Valuable Home Addresses)

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Where to Get a Loan to Buy a Business

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

When seeking to buy an existing business, you may need to get a loan to cover all or part of the initial purchase. There are plenty of small business financing options to choose from, including SBA loans, bank loans, seller financing, and online options like Fundera and Lendio.

To learn more about buying an existing business, download your free copy of BizBuySell Guide to Buying a Small Business. You can also download the free ebook BizBuySell Guide to Selling Your Small Business for small business owners seeking a buyer for an existing business.

Use the BizBuySell Business for Sale feature to find a small business for sale or the Find a Business Broker  feature to get help finding a small business.

How to Get a Business Acquisition Loan

One way to buy an existing business is through a business acquisition loan. Below we outline some types of business acquisition loans available and some things you’ll need before you even get started looking for a loan to buy a business.

Requirements for the Loan Application Process

To begin with, here’s a list of application requirements and information that will be examined during the loan application process.

Financial Records

In order to get a loan to buy a business, you’ll need to prove the business’s financial stability. Financial records go a long way. This generally includes things like bank statements, current debt, and income. They demonstrate your ability to repay a lender.

Business Valuation

Lenders want to know that their investment in your loan is safe. So they generally won’t give you more money than a business is worth. As such, you’ll need to provide proof of the business’s value. This can be calculated using multiple factors, including revenue, assets, cash flow, and market analysis.

Business Plan

A business plan is what demonstrates your ability to continue running the business profitably. This type of plan generally includes your market, product or service, competitive analysis, and strategies for growth and marketing. You also generally need to submit a business plan when getting a loan to start a business. So it’s a similar requirement for business acquisition.

Earning Projections

What is the business expected to bring in moving forward? This obviously has a major impact on your ability to repay a lender. It’s common to use current revenue to create these projections. But there may also be other factors that you could use to demonstrate the likelihood of future growth. For example, if your new business is in an emerging industry, use industry market projections to back up higher earning projections. Some due diligence can go a long way toward demonstrating your potential future earnings.

Track Record and Experience of the Borrower

It’s not just the business’s finances that your lender will want to analyze. They also want to know your own personal financial situation and experience. For example, if you’re debt free and have successfully run businesses in the past, that bodes well for your ability to repay a business acquisition loan. However, excessive debt or a recent bankruptcy filing may serve as a red flag that makes it harder to secure financing.

Personal Finances

When it comes to your personal finances, potential lenders will review multiple factors to get the entire picture. Basically, they want to analyze your personal financial stability to gauge your ability to repay the loan. Here are some of the most important factors they’ll look at when an entrepreneur applies for a business acquisition loan.

  • Credit score: Your credit score takes a variety of factors into account, like your ability to pay bills and the amount of outstanding and open credit you currently have.
  • Tax returns: Your tax returns outline your income and expenses from the past several years. This shows lenders where your current income stands and where it comes from.
  • Outstanding debts: The more debt you have, the more difficult it may be to repay a business acquisition loan. This doesn’t mean you have to be completely debt free. But a lender is going to want to see a full list.
  • Cash flow: Your ability to bring in money plays a big role in your ability to get a business loan. They’ll want to know your personal income cash flow and that of the business you’re seeking a loan to buy.
  • Collateral: Sometimes, a little extra assurance is needed for a lender to feel comfortable granting a business acquisition loan. Your personal assets like your home or investment accounts may serve as collateral.

Loan Type to Buy an Existing Business

There are a variety of loan types when seeking financing to buy an existing business. Here is a brief overview of each.

Conventional Business Loan

A conventional business loan generally comes from a bank or other financial institution. They often provide a large lump sum of cash that you pay off over several years. Terms vary, but these loans can come with competitive rates.

However, they are often difficult for very small businesses and new entrepreneurs to obtain. Banks consider business loans for this type of borrower to be fairly risky. So they generally check multiple factors like your credit score, business history, business plan, and assets. And their standards are likely to be a bit higher than those of online or alternative lenders. They may also require you to put up significant collateral to lessen their risk.

Additionally, conventional loans often provide a large amount of funding — sometimes up to $500,000. This can be a positive for those looking for large business acquisition loans. But it’s often not ideal for small businesses looking for more manageable payments.

Seller Financing from the Business Owner

With seller financing, the current business owner essentially acts as the bank providing financing for the buyer. They offer a loan that covers all or part of the purchase of the business. And the buyer repays that loan in pre-agreed-upon payments over time, with interest. The interest rate is often comparable to that of an SBA loan. And sellers generally still check credit scores and financial records before offering loans.

For the buyer, this provides an option for acquiring a new business without having to provide all the cash upfront. And it’s ideal for those that may not qualify for traditional bank loans. For the seller, this allows them to get a slightly better price for their business, since they’ll also be able to collect interest over time.

However, the arrangement does come with risks for both sides. Terms vary, but sellers are generally able to re-take ownership of the business if payments are missed for a significant period of time. However, many sellers only offer business acquisition loans if they’re fairly confident in their company’s ability to make money.

Rollover of ROBS Loan

ROBS stands for rollovers as a business startup. This type of loan involves using funds from a 401(k) or IRA retirement account to invest in a new business. But it can be used as a way to fund acquisition of am existing business too. It’s a complex option that requires an attorney or financial expert with experience in ROBS plans. Basically, you form a new corporation and set up a 401(k) for it. Then you can roll the money from your existing accounts into it and use it to fund the business.

This is an attractive option for some because it doesn’t involve interest. In fact, you don’t take on any official debt at all. It also does not involve the typical credit checks that come with applying for a business acquisition loan.

However, the risk for a ROBS loan is potentially losing your retirement savings. If the business you’re purchasing doesn’t work out, you’ve also lost your nest egg for the future. Additionally, this money being used to fund your operations means that it’s not growing in the market. This may be worthwhile if the venture works out. But if not, you’re missing out on years of potential gains.

How to Get an SBA Loan to Buy a Business

Another of the financing options open to entrepreneurs seeking to make a business purchase is the so-called SBA 7(a) loan. Here are some details about this option.

What is a Small Business Administration Backed Loan?

An SBA loan is similar to a conventional business loan in that it is offered by a bank or credit union. However, the funds are backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and are specifically set aside as small business loans. So the financial institution doesn’t have to take on as much risk. This allows banks to provide more opportunities for new entrepreneurs and small loans.

How to Qualify for an SBA 7(a) Loan

SBA loans are set aside for small businesses. And there are different types of SBA loans with clearly defined standards that vary by industry. But generally, you need to have fewer than 1,500 employees and less than $40 million in receipts each year. You also must be located or do business in the United States and operate for profit.

A borrower must also demonstrate the need for a business loan. This means you must have already invested personal assets before seeking a loan. And you must use the funds for a sound business purpose like operating expenses or growth.

Though your personal financial situation may not be quite as scrutinized with an SBA loan, you cannot qualify if you have outstanding debts to the federal government. And lenders can still consider your financial history when approving your application and deciding your interest rate.

Documentation Needed for an SBA Loan

Your bank or credit union will use a variety of factors to determine your loan eligibility and interest rate. Before applying for an SBA loan, gather the following documentation:

  • Loan application: The SBA provides this application form to collect basic information from the borrower.
  • Personal background and financial statement: These are also forms provided by the SBA. Complete the personal background statement and personal financial statement to provide information about your business and financial history.
  • Business financial statements: When seeking a business acquisition loan, include the profit and loss statements and projected financial statements from the business you plan to purchase.
  • Ownership and affiliations: Include a list of all proposed owners and affiliations you currently hold.
  • Proposed bill of sale: Include the terms of the sale so the lender can confirm the intent to purchase and the amount needed.
  • Loan history: Include any loans you’ve already applied for. This may include loans for the business and/or past ventures.
  • Tax returns: Include your personal tax returns so the bank can confirm your income. And include at least two years of tax returns from the business to give them an idea of the income potential.
  • Resumes from principals: Your professional history can impact the success of the business. So include your resume and resumes from any other principals who will be involved.
  • Business overview: Include an explanation of the business and why the loan is needed.
  • Lease: If there’s a physical location for the business, include the lease terms. If the business doesn’t yet have a lease agreement, include a proposed agreement signed by the landlord.
  • Asking price: An application for a business acquisition loan should also include the proposed total sales price. Add a rundown of other costs like inventory, equipment, furniture, and fixtures.

Steps to Get a Loan Backed by the SBA

The process of applying for a business acquisition loan can vary from case to case. But there are some basic steps that apply to most entrepreneurs looking for SBA loans:

  • Find an eligible lender: SBA loans are granted through third party lenders. Start by finding a bank or financial institution in your area that qualifies as an SBA lender.
  • Gather your documentation: Go through the list of applications and documents above and gather them to submit to your lender.
  • Wait for approval: Your lender will review your application and documents and submit them to the SBA. The SBA decides if they will guarantee the loan. And they work with the lender to agree upon terms.
  • Close on the loan: If you are granted approval, you’ll need to agree on the terms. And you’ll have to complete any required extra steps like guaranteeing collateral.

Buying a Business with No Money Down

Finally you can buy a business with no money down. Here are the most popular methods.

Get Financing from Small Business Owner

As mentioned earlier, instead of getting an official business acquisition loan, you may secure financing from the current small business owner. Seller financing is often used to fund just part of a small business. But depending on your situation, they may provide the full amount that you can pay off over time.

This option does generally come with some interest. And you’ll risk losing the business if you can’t make payments on their terms. But small business owners often only offer to finance if they’re fairly confident in the business’s ability to earn.

Get Money from Friends and Family

You don’t necessarily need your own capital to pay for a business completely upfront. If you have friends and family who are willing to help, this can be an easy and low risk way to invest in a new business opportunity.

The risk with this type of business purchase is mostly personal. You may risk relationships or provide too much power to friends and family without business experience. This is why clearly outlining the terms before borrowing from friends and family is so important.

Get Funds from Leveraged Buyout

A leveraged buyout involves using borrowed money and using the assets of the company being purchased to cover the initial cost. For example, you might secure a business acquisition loan to cover part of the purchase. And then you can leverage the business’s equipment or real estate assets as collateral to secure a larger sum.

This allows you to complete a business acquisition with little to no money down. But it also means you won’t have much equity in the business early on.

How much can you borrow for buying an existing business?

The amount of money included in a loan to buy a business varies depending on what type of financing you seek. With a traditional business loan, you may be able to get up to $500,000. With smaller or alternative financing, you can borrow smaller amounts as little as $5,000.

The amount you’re able to get also varies depending on factors like your business and credit history. When securing a loan to buy a business, the company’s profitability and financial history will also play a role. The lender will want to know that you’ll easily be able to pay back the loan with your earnings.

What kinds of businesses can you buy with SBA loans?

The SBA can help you secure a loan to buy a business in a wide array of industries and niches. The main qualifications are that the business must be for-profit and have an established history of at least two to five years. It should also qualify as a small business under the SBA’s guidelines.

Other factors like your access to capital and credit history may impact your personal eligibility. And the business’s income and need for a loan may also factor in. But the actual industry or type of business should not affect your ability to get a loan, outside of its impact on potential profitability.

How do you start a business with no money?

There are several options to start a new venture without startup capital. You might seek small business financing from SBA loan programs or seek an alternative financing option like Fundera or Lendio. Some small business owners also seek a startup loan from family or friends, either to cover the whole sale price or the money needed to secure a loan. Using bootstrapping techniques to start your business may be another option.

No matter what method of financing you choose, it may be beneficial to start a business that doesn’t require much startup capital. For example, an online business without a physical location is going to require less upfront investment. So even if you do need a loan to cover equipment or supplies, it should be easier to obtain the full amount.

Image: Depositphotos

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Spotlight: Rock Your Month Overcomes Taboos to Serve an Underserved Market

A large portion of the population purchases period products about once a month. So it would seem like a perfect fit for the growing subscription box industry. However, this market is sometimes underserved because of the taboo nature of the products.

Enter Rock Your Month. The founder’s military service convinced her of the importance of access to these items. Read about her story and the company below in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers a feminine hygiene subscription box.

Founder JaBett Glenn told Small Business Trends, “We not only make periods more convenient, shipping subscription boxes of all feminine care essentials to customers on a monthly basis, but we also help all women and girls to “rock their month”. As a part of our business model, Rock Your Month donates proceeds from all subscription membership to provide feminine care to women in underserved communities.”

Business Niche

Helping women and girls in need.

Glenn says, “Recently we’ve partnered with local entities including the Michigan Veteran’s Business Association and the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries and have been able to support 7,000+ women/girls in need. This is vastly important, as a recent study found that 1 in 5 US teens struggles to afford period products or were not able to purchase them at all. The study also notes, period poverty and lack to proper period products leads to significantly higher risks of infection and emotional anxiety.”

How the Business Got Started

Because of the founder’s military experience.

Glenn explains, “I got the idea for Rock Your Month after seeing the importance of convenience and accessibility to feminine hygiene products during my experience in military training.”

Biggest Win

Hosting a National Period Product Drive.

Glenn says, “The initial challenge came in everything being virtual due to COVID restrictions. So we didn’t quite know how it would turn out. But in thinking outside the box we set up a virtual campaign through our Facebook platform and worked with both the public and military sector to raise awareness and accept donations. Overall, we were successful in raising over 5,000 feminine care products to support 125 women and young girls across 2 Detroit shelters. When I personally made the delivery to each location, there was no better feeling in the world than seeing the smiles and excitement on their faces as we wheeled in the boxes.”

Biggest Risk

Entering an industry that can seem taboo.

Glenn adds, “I knew the need was there and our subscription model made sense. But would the public feel the same? Would women buy into the concept of completely reevaluating the way we manage our period care? We did the research. And it seemed promising. But you truly never know until you go. So with boxes stocked and prepared for launch, the worst case scenario was not selling a single one & now literally having a lifetime of pads and tampons in my home ((smiles)). But it worked. And not only did it work, we’ve been able to forge amazing paths, support women everywhere, and work with outstanding organizations along the way.”

Lesson Learned

Just start.

Glenn says, “If I could do it all over again I’d start sooner. I’d make the leap earlier BEFORE trying to “figure it all out”. It doesn’t have to be perfect (nothing is). In understanding that and accepting the beauty in growth along the way, I believe we could have started sooner, placing the company IN FRONT of the pandemic and simply scaling as needed to meet the increased ecommerce demand.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Expanding the product line, branding, and opening a brick and mortar shop.

Glenn explains, “As a business structured in ecommerce with the goal to impact the community in a dynamic way, I have major goals for Rock Your Month. And $100,000 would definitely go far in supporting those goals!”

Team Makeup

Family and friends from various points in her life.

Glenn explains, “When I called each person with the original concept years back. They loved the idea and believed in it 100%.”

* * * * *

Image: Rock Your Month, JaBett Glenn

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Audio Marketing: From Radio to Clubhouse [Infographic]

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Chief Marketer Survey: The Biggest Marketing Leadership Deficiencies

Senior marketers say the biggest marketing leadership deficiency in their organizations is an understanding of the customer journey, according to recent research from the CMO Council and Chief Outsiders.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in 1Q21 among 150 members of the CMO Council.

Some 44% of respondents say their organization has a marketing leadership gap/hole/deficiency in understanding the customer journey.

Other major deficiencies include understanding how to segment and personalize messaging at scale (42% of respondents cite that as an issue at their organization) and having the ability to act on customer data insights (37%).

Senior marketers say the top areas they plan to recruit/upgrade functional leaders are go-to-market execution and operations (45% say so), and content and demand generation (38%).

surveyed senior marketers say what leaders they plan to recruit or upgrade in 2021

Senior marketers say their top developmental priorities in 2021 are to expand marketing automation and data analytics programs and resources (61% cite that as a priority), and to add strategic marketing depth and capability across all functions (58%).

surveyed senior marketers share their development and diversity priorities for 2021

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey conducted in 1Q21 among 150 members of the CMO Council.

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