Rex Hammock – Small business information, insight and resources | Thu, 22 Feb 2018 15:43:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Does Your Marketing Email Compare to Others in Your Industry? | 2018 Fri, 16 Feb 2018 20:01:49 +0000

Every year, some very smart number crunchers at the email marketing company Constant Contact spend time analyzing raw data related to 200 million emails sent by the company’s customers. Their goal is to find the average rates by business type of email opens, click-throughs, and bounces. (Note: The research covers aggregate data, not data related to specific customers.) 

Email Marketing Performance Compared by Industries

Source: Constant Contact. As of December 2017. Posted: February 12, 2018

Open Rate | Percentage of email recipients who open it.
Bounce Rate | Percentage of email sent that could not be delivered.
Click-through Rate | Percentage of those who open an email and click on at least one: link, button, linked image.
Unsubscribe Rate | Percentage of recipients who opt-out of the mailing list.

Business Type Open Rate (Total) Mobile Open Rate Tablet Open Rate Desktop Open Rate Click-Through Rate Bounce Rate Unsubscribe Rate
Accommodations (ex. hotel, inn, B&B, camp grounds) 16.88% 64.18% 19.64% 44.15% 6.17% 9.08% 0.02%
Accountant 13.14% 59.11% 16.55% 73.24% 8.56% 9.13% 0.01%
Animal Services 15.95% 64.24% 16.90% 42.90% 7.41% 6.03% 0.02%
Art, Culture, Entertainment (ex. galleries, museums, musicians, theatre, film, crafts) 16.21% 54.76% 17.05% 45.53% 6.41% 7.26% 0.01%
Automotive Services 13.56% 64.65% 14.14% 42.87% 8.08% 8.48% 0.03%
Child Care Services 18.68% 84.52% 7.57% 35.41% 5.79% 7.96% 0.01%
Civic/Social Membership (ex. associations, chambers, clubs) 23.23% 60.48% 14.17% 71.97% 7.91% 9.48% 0.01%
Consultant, Training (ex. marketing, management) 13.93% 53.18% 9.47% 69.89% 7.19% 11.58% 0.01%
Education – Primary/Secondary (ex. elementary, middle, and high schools) 23.05% 69.21% 10.64% 49.95% 7.83% 8.48% 0.01%
Education – Higher Education (ex. colleges, universities, trade schools) 18.35% 63.57% 10.85% 48.74% 7.72% 8.56% 0.01%
Financial Advisor 17.08% 57.86% 14.01% 59.48% 7.11% 11.41% 0.02%
Fitness Center, Sports, Recreation (ex. yoga studio, bowling alley, gym) 15.72% 67.84% 13.79% 35.25% 5.60% 10.03% 0.01%
Fitness/Nutritional Services (ex. personal trainer, wellness coach) 14.20% 71.66% 11.96% 33.94% 6.86% 6.93% 0.02%
Government Agency or Services 22.51% 65.58% 14.22% 73.59% 9.14% 10.05% 0.01%
Health & Social Services (ex. hospital, elder care, adoption services) 19.18% 59.02% 14.53% 71.26% 6.69% 10.20% 0.02%
Health Professional (ex. physician, dentist, chiropractor) 16.94% 63.14% 14.47% 51.29% 6.23% 10.18% 0.03%
Home & Building Services (ex. construction, HVAC, landscaping, design) 19.66% 56.00% 15.36% 59.84% 5.72% 10.87% 0.04%
Insurance 15.10% 52.55% 9.15% 84.43% 6.86% 7.63% 0.02%
Legal Services 20.61% 57.42% 9.19% 71.66% 6.80% 12.42% 0.02%
Manufacturing and Distribution 14.87% 47.65% 11.57% 71.21% 7.85% 11.90% 0.01%
Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations 10.36% 51.25% 10.38% 51.34% 5.98% 9.17% 0.01%
Other 22.50% 53.79% 15.42% 45.24% 4.69% 8.61% 0.01%
Other – Non-profit 19.71% 59.52% 15.76% 57.46% 6.86% 9.68% 0.02%
Personal Services (ex. dry cleaning, photography, housekeeping) 17.62% 59.78% 13.85% 48.66% 6.30% 9.59% 0.02%
Professional Services 17.40% 57.61% 12.02% 63.66% 7.39% 10.72% 0.02%
Publishing 14.87% 54.17% 15.80% 52.80% 12.84% 8.99% 0.01%
Real Estate 15.99% 54.14% 9.80% 55.80% 6.32% 11.89% 0.02%
Religious Organization 25.62% 71.11% 20.36% 47.80% 6.69% 7.98% 0.01%
Restaurant, Bar, Cafe, Caterer 15.66% 59.11% 17.30% 39.16% 4.22% 10.22% 0.02%
Retail (ex. brick and mortar and online) 11.51% 56.23% 19.62% 34.36% 6.70% 6.76% 0.01%
Salon, Spa, Barber (ex. nails, tanning) 13.42% 66.08% 13.81% 28.13% 3.69% 13.50% 0.01%
Technology (ex. web developer) 13.03% 43.83% 6.82% 75.20% 5.85% 11.56% 0.01%
Transportation 17.80% 64.67% 13.46% 63.32% 14.56% 10.47% 0.02%
Travel and Tourism (ex. limo driver, tour guide, reservations) 14.67% 50.50% 19.87% 53.36% 6.69% 11.22% 0.02%
Unknown 12.66% 60.79% 14.68% 49.64% 7.96% 9.82% 0.01%


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Will Small Business Owners Save Sam’s Club? Thu, 15 Feb 2018 19:53:27 +0000

Back in the mid-2000’s, Sam’s Club stores had big signs painted on their walls proclaiming, “We Are In Business For Small Business.” They called themselves a “wholesale warehouse” and focused on getting small businesses to pay for membership cards their employees could use to purchase merchandise in bulk or discount. In 2006, the company decided to drop the “Small Business” slogan and to open up memberships to individual customers.  (But they’ve continued to promote their small business connection.)

In the ten years since the change, Sam’s Club has continued to struggle to figure out what it is and who it serves. Like other big box stores, including Sam’s Club corporate sister, Walmart, the tsunami of online shopping has changed their world. Sam’s Club recently announced it is closing 63 stores. Yesterday (2.14.2018), executives revealed more details about its strategic shift — one that seems very focused on competing with Amazon. quote:

“The changes are part of a broader strategy that Sam’s Club executives said involved closing underperforming stores and focusing on core customers — typically a family making $125,000 a year that lives in the suburbs and may own a small business.”

The Amazon irony

Like Walmart, Amazon is often portrayed as the enemy of small business. Unlike Walmart, Amazon uses a long-tail version of retailing that allows businesses, large and small, to sell products in its marketplace. We’ve even explored the theory that independent bookstores have benefitted from having Amazon as an ally in that industry’s earlier war against big-box retailers like Borders and Barnes & Noble. Perhaps a similar theory could be applied to Amazon’s competition with Target, Walmart, Sam’s Clubs et al.

Can Sam’s catch up?

One of Amazon’s greatest retailing “innovations” was not even an innovation. “Prime membership” was an adoption of the core differentiators of the entire warehouse club concept: Selling annual memberships. What started out as Amazon’s Prime membership for free shipping has turned into a juggernaut of benefits including streaming movies and, more recently, Amazon Business Prime Shipping.

The Sam’s Club announcement yesterday of a membership premium of free shipping comes 13 years after Amazon Prime’s launch. And Amazon has not stood still during those 13 years. While Amazon does not make such numbers public, estimates for the number of Prime members range from 60-90 million.

That said, Walmart is the largest retailer in the world and the most successful retailer in the history of, well, retailing.

So, if you’ve let your membership lapse and you are “a family making $125,000 a year that lives in the suburbs and may own a small business,” here’s what Sam’s Club want’s you to get.

$100 Plus membership | Free shipping on almost any item
$45 Club membership | Includes discounts on services like flat tire repairs.

Photo | jmoor17 | istock

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Half of Small Business Owners Give Administration High Marks | January 2018 Mon, 29 Jan 2018 03:18:25 +0000 While President Trump‘s first-year average job approval rating, measured by Gallup, was at least 10 percentage points lower than that of any of his predecessors, he received better grades from small business owners. According to a Gallup survey released last Friday (1.25.2018), the Trump administration received a grade of A or B from 49 % of small business owners. One-third of small business owners gave the administration a grade of D or F, reflecting the polarized nature of politics today, according to Gallup.

The findings came from the latest quarterly update of the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey conducted Jan. 3-9.

The White House also scored significantly higher than the percentage of respondents who gave high marks to state government, the Supreme Court, and Congress. At the same time, more than a third of owners give the administration a grade of D or F, reflecting the polarized nature of politics today, said Gallup.

The latest results come as small business owners’ overall optimism is as high as it has been since before the 2008/2009 recession, as noted by both Gallup and NFIB.

What grade would you give each of the following in terms of their performance on issues that have been important to your business over the past year: A, B, C, D, or F?

% % % % %
Current presidential administration 24 25 15 11 24
Your state government 11 28 32 13 15
Supreme Court 10 26 38 10 9
Congress 4 17 28 22 27



Google is Giving Users More Control to Mute Those Ads That Follow You Around | 2018 Fri, 26 Jan 2018 17:20:44 +0000

If not managed with care by an advertiser, one of the most effective (yet at times, creepiest) forms of online marketing are the ads that follow you wherever you go on the web. Those types of ads belong to a category of data-driven marketing called lots of things (that we can repeat):  Behavioral marketing, behavioral-targeting, retargeting and remarketing. Google, the dominant provider of this type of advertising, has a kinder-gentler name for them: “reminder ads.” In the past, we’ve provided information on Google’s Mute This Ad feature that provides users a way to turn off such tracking ads – yet in a limited way for specific types of ads. Late yesterday (1.25.2018), Google announced it is adding more features to Mute This Ad that “give you more control to mute the (reminder) ads you see on Google, on websites, and in apps,” according to Jon Krafcik, Google group product manager of data privacy and transparency. “Once users tell Google they don’t like an ad, Google will stop displaying it on all the devices that user is logged into,” he said.

MTA flow - US.png

“Today, we’re rolling out the ability to mute the reminder ads in apps and on websites that partner with us to show ads. We plan to expand this tool to control ads on YouTube, Search, and Gmail in the coming months.”

Jon Krafcik
Google Group Product Manager of Data Privacy and Transparency

1 | Mute this Ad will now recognize feedback on any device where you are signed in to your Google Account, based on your account settings.

2 | Mute This Ad will roll out the new features to apps and websites that partner with Google to show ads.

3 | Mute This App will expand to YouTube, Search and Gmail in the coming months.

4 | Users will be able to view a list of the websites that are delivering remarketing ads to them, and thus tracking them, and opt-out from having ads from those websites delivered to them going forward.

5 | Be forewarned: Those who use the tool are muting the advertiser from retargeting them with Google ads, not just the one ad they’re sick of seeing.

6 | It only impacts Google ads, not those from other remarketing services an advertiser might be using.

If Success is a Journey, Not a Destination, Here’s Your Roadmap Thu, 25 Jan 2018 16:11:44 +0000

It’s one of those cliches that’s attributed to everyone from ancient philosophers to modern-day football coaches. (But isn’t that what makes something a cliche?) My favorite version is attributed to tennis great (and a personal hero) Arthur Ashe: “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” I first heard the quote decades ago and it has often reminded me what business — and life — is all about. Recently on the Evernote blog, “Taking Note,” Jessi Craige explained why big goals are intimidating and why they so often quietly slip away. Instead of seeing a big goal as something that will be realized at some point in the distant future, the journey is all about what you can accomplish right now, starting today. Here’s a roadmap you can follow.


1 | Get specific

With both your overall goal and your roadmap for getting there, it’s important to be specific. It’s not about thinking positively about some abstract goal. It’s about thinking positively but also planning realistically what you want to accomplish and how you’ll go about it.

2 | Break it down and start small

Break big habits down into mini-goals and milestones. For instance, if you want to write a book, maybe start by writing a few articles on the topic or carve out 20 minutes every day for writing. Every day you’ll get incrementally better, learning something new along the way.

3 | Figure out what is distracting you

What distracts you on a day-to-day basis? Brainstorm some ideas for how you can get around your most frequent distractions and triggers. Come up with some tactics to get yourself back on track if you lose your way.

4 | Reflect daily

Break things down each day by asking yourself, “What is one step I can take today to get closer to my goal?” “What did I learn today?”

5 | Carve out time

Set aside time every day. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, don’t neglect it — it’s how you’ll make progress.

6 | Celebrate the progress and enjoy the journey

When you have a big goal, it’s tempting to think you haven’t succeeded until you’ve achieved it. That anything short is a failure. When it’s not all about the goal, you can take it all in. Keep track of what you’ve accomplished with a done list. Seeing your progress boosts motivation, heightens positive emotions, and sustains your productivity.

VIA | Taking Note | 6 tips for focusing on the journey


How to Stop Using Your Smartphone Continuously Thu, 18 Jan 2018 20:54:47 +0000

It may be hard to believe, but the iPhone has just been around a decade. While cell phones (or mobile phones) had been around for about two decades longer, it was not until 2007 that the glow of iPhone screens began illuminating our faces wherever and whenever we roamed. During this short decade, the iPhone (or, generically speaking, smartphones) have become so powerful, so ubiquitous, and so integrated into everything in our lives, some psychologists are claiming they are “changing our brains” and are worried about the effects of the smartphone on children. Even some major stockholders of Apple have called on the company to study the effects of heavy usage on mental health.

 Are smartphones changing our brains?

One thing is certain. If iPhones haven’t changed our brains, our brains would be one of few things in life that they haven’t changed. My wife and adult children call my iPhone, “the machine.” The nickname originates from an inside-family joke involving my father-in-law’s request for me to look something up “on my machine.” Having a machine that gives me access to hundreds of potential questions I might come across during the course of a day makes my brain smarter. However, two years ago a car driven by a person using an iPhone ran into me as I was riding my bike home from work. In that case, the driver’s machine resulted me having a concussion that probably made my brain a bit less smart. (Fortunately, my bike survived and yes, I was wearing a helmet.)

Last fall (October 2016) Apple’s chief design officer Joni Ives was asked how the iPhone today differs from what he, Steve Jobs and others believed it would evolve in to. “Like any tool, you can see there’s wonderful use and then there’s misuse,” he said.  When asked what considered a “misuse,” he said, “Perhaps, constant use.”

How to stop using your smartphone constantly

1 | Don’t interact with your phone while driving

This means stop texting, checking, talking or anything else that keeps you from being distracted while driving. For example, the Apple iOS 11  mobile operating system has a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” setting. You can also enable it by going here:

 Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls

Then, tap the green plus button to make it appear in Control Center. When this feature is active, you won’t receive calls or messages, but you will receive emergency notifications. You can choose to receive calls from selected contacts.

2 | While watching TV or reading, don’t keep your smartphone near you

According to a growing mountain of research, there is no such thing as multitasking. Driving distracted is the cause of 11 U.S. traffic fatalities each day.

3 | Take control of your push notifications

 This article on explains the why’s and how’s of shutting off notifications. Follow the instructions and it could throttle back the 40+ times a day you’re checking your phone

4 | Set your screen to “grayscale”
You may not believe this until you try it, but making your smartphone screen display in “black and white” will do two things: (1) Give you a jolt of awareness when you look at the screen, and (2) Help you overcome clicking on the next flashing button. Try it, really. Here is how:

iOS | To switch your iPhone over to grayscale:

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations >
Color Filters > and select Grayscale

Android | The process for enabling grayscale differs for different models of Android phones, but it’s typically accessed via the “Accessibility” menu.




Learn to Type (or Type Faster) With This Free Browser Application Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:03:24 +0000

Are you a hunt-and-peck typist? If you’d like to learn how to “touch type” (the kind of typing that doesn’t involve looking at the keyboard), here’s a browser-based app and course called, simply, How to Type. It’s not the slickest looking app you’ll ever see, but it works…and the price is right: Free!

The free application and course are broken up into three sections.

1 | Lessons
2 | Practice
3 | Tests

Here are some tips for faster typing from How to Type

1 | Learn to touch type.

Having the ability to type without looking at the keyboard is the most important factor in achieving a fast typing speed.

2 | Aim for accuracy rather than speed.

Allowing yourself to type incorrectly will actually reinforce your bad habits and common mistakes! Slow your typing pace until you can attain 100% accuracy. If you come across a difficult word, slow down further to type it properly. Develop good habits and speed will be your reward.

3 | Learn the entire keyboard.

Even seasoned typists often don’t know the entire keyboard. They are especially vexed by those key combo shortcuts that most software now includes. Hitting these awkward keys and combos accurately allows you to maintain focus on what you are doing, so make sure you include them in your typing practice.

4 | Practice typing exercises regularly.

Mastering typing takes training and practice. Practice on a regular schedule, 10 minutes to an hour per session, depending on your energy and focus level.

5 | Minimize your physical effort.

The less work your fingers do to press the keys the faster you will be able to move them. Most keyboards require only a light touch to register a keystroke, so there is no need to apply much pressure (unless you plan on typing on a vintage, mechanical typewriter).



Also on

How Dictation and Swipe Typing Turbo-Charged How Fast I Can ‘Type’ on a Smartphone

Supreme Court to Reconsider if Online Retailers Can Continue to Avoid Collecting Sales Tax Mon, 15 Jan 2018 15:04:07 +0000

On Friday (1.12.2018), the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will take up a case that could require online retailers to collect state sales tax on purchases made online. In a previous 1992 case (Quill v. North Dakota), the court ruled that a direct marketing company cannot be forced to collect sales tax in states where it has no physical presence. While the Quill decision was made prior to the explosion in online e-commerce, the court has used it as the reason to avoid taking up a case specific to internet “e-commerce.”

By deciding to consider the current case (South Dakota v. Wayfair), the court is heeding calls from traditional retailers and dozens of states that contend that the 1992 ruling is obsolete in the e-commerce era. As part of the 1992 decision, the court indicated that Congress should take up the matter. The full Congress has not addressed it, however.

Main Street merchants vs. online e-commerce

Traditional Main Street small and local retailers have long argued that it’s unfair to not require online retailers to collect state sales tax. However, many major online retailers like Wayfair Inc., Inc. and Newegg Inc. are opposing South Dakota in the court fight. Each collects sales taxes from customers in only some states. ( is not involved in this case, as explained below.)

“If Quill is overruled, the burdens will fall primarily on small and medium-sized companies whose access to a national market will be stifled,” the companies have argued in court documents. “Sales tax laws across the country are too complicated for retailers to know how much tax to collect unless they were physically present in the customer’s state.”

While this may have been true in the past, the National Retail Federation (NRF), a supporter of overturning Quill, now says that computer software has made that concern obsolete. The NRF says that Congress “…should not sit on the sidelines as the Supreme Court considers this case. It’s time to pass legislation to settle this critical issue once and for all. Even if the court rules in favor of a modern sales tax policy, legislation will still be needed to spell out how that would work.”

Why state and local governments support overturning Quill

State lawmakers may be ready to take up the legislation because 45 states with income taxes are seeking ways to make up the revenue they have lost due to provisions in the recently-passed tax reform act.

According to a report by the non-partisan congressional Government Accountability Office, state and local governments could have collected up to $13 billion more in 2017 if they’d been allowed to require sales tax payments from online merchants and other remote sellers. Other estimates are even higher. All but five states impose sales taxes, according to Bloomberg.

What about

While is by far the largest online retailer in the U.S., it isn’t directly involved in the current court review.

In the past, Amazon used Quill to avoid collecting sales tax at all. The company has gradually changed its position as it has built warehouses — and thus, created a greater physical presence — all over the country. The company now says it backs a nationwide approach that would relieve retailers from dealing with a patchwork of state laws.

When selling its own inventory, Amazon charges sales tax in every state that imposes one, but about half of its sales involve goods owned by third-party merchants. For those items, the company says it’s up to the sellers to collect any taxes, and many don’t.


What Will Happen to Truckers’ Jobs When Self-Driving Commercial Vehicles Hit the Road Fri, 12 Jan 2018 17:35:02 +0000

Self-driving vehicles (also called “autonomous technology”) will soon be rolling from the development stage onto the actual highway stage. “Some experts say fleets of driverless vehicles will be on the road within two years,” according to a recent series by the San Francisco Chronicle. One issue the newspaper tackled was the question, “What happens to all of those over-the-road and local truckers who now deliver about 75 percent of everything businesses and consumers purchase?”

Some positive results that may occur due to self-driving trucks

  • Fewer traffic accidents
    • 40,000 | In the U.S., 40,000 people die in car crashes each year, mostly caused by human error. Millions more are seriously injured.
  • Cleaner air
  • Cheaper transportation

Some negative results that may occur due to self-driving trucks

  • Could cost millions of people their jobs
    • 3.8 Million | Number of Americans who work as commercial motor vehicle operators, driving trucks, delivery vans, buses and taxis (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
    • 29 States | In 29 states, truck driving is the most common occupation
    • 4 million | People who work in trucking-related jobs other than driving. For example, insurance agents, parking meter attendants, truck stops, motels, parking lots, toll booths, garages, auto body shops, etc.
    • 90% | Percentage of the trucking industry made up of small business trucking companies with 10 or fewer trucks. (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association)
    • 350,000 | There are approximately 350,000 owner-operators in the United States.

    What happens to truckers when commercial vehicles are self-driving?

    “The net impact of automation on employment has always been positive, rather than a negative,” says John Paul MacDuffie, a management professor at Wharton Business School’s program on vehicle and mobility innovation. “There’s no reason to expect that this time will be any different,” McDuffie told the Chronicle.

    “Luddites smashed looms 200 years ago because they thought they would do away with their craft. The reality is, work always evolves to adapt to technology,” said Rob Carter, chief information officer for FedEx, which operates 160,000 ground vehicles. Airplanes already can fly themselves — but pilots still inhabit the cockpit, handling takeoffs, landings and any situations that arise, Carter said. He thinks the same will be true for trucks.

    While pizza delivery is a different industry than over-the-road trucking, when Pizza Hut recently announced a new autonomous project, the company said that autonomous delivery trucks would actually create more jobs.

    If history repeats itself, a re-tooled trucking industry will likely unveil countless needs that will lead to the creation of new small businesses and provide opportunities for sole proprietors. Some of those opportunities will include the adaptation of owner-operator business models that provide services similar to today — but that utilize some amazing new technology. Unfortunately, the next few years (or decades) may also be a rocky road for many small businesses in the trucking industry.

    But who knows? Maybe the future of commercial transportation won’t just be in self-driving trucks, but will also be something we’ve all wanted since the Jetsons: the flying cargo container.

    Hey. It could happen.


Don’t Waste Your Ad Dollars By Using Acronyms Thu, 11 Jan 2018 15:16:30 +0000

Here are two reasons why you shouldn’t use acronyms in your advertisements.

Example #1 | As hard as it is to believe, a portion of your intended audience won’t know what you are talking about.

In 2015, we explained that the acronym SMB (for “small and medium business”) is used constantly by those who work as marketers at large companies or startups that sell products to small and medium businesses. However, as we explained in 2015, SMB is rarely, if ever, used by small business owners. Even CEOs of medium size businesses don’t know what the “M” stands for. Unfortunately, those marketers use the term so much at work, they start using “SMB” when they name products.  I promise: SMB is not in the vocabulary of small business owners. Even Google doesn’t understand what SMB means.

Example #2 | When purchasing your product, customers are thinking about their problem or need, not what your acronym means.

While listening to an NFL football playoff game on my car radio recently, I heard an announcer read an ad (like in the old days) for Valvoline oil. During the ad, the announcer used the acronym D-I-Y (as in “do-it-yourself.”) As the ad ended and the announcers went back to talking about the game, the announcer who didn’t read the ad asked, “Hey, what does DIY mean?”

The announcer who had read the commercial laughed and said, “It means ‘do it yourself.’ But don’t feel bad. I had to look it up earlier in the season.”

My first thought was, “Who possibly can’t know what DIY means?” But then I remembered all the times I’ve been in my favorite independent hardware store with a question like, “I need one of those white plastic round things you attached to a drain.”

“Do you mean ‘PVC?'” the clerk asks, trying not to chuckle.


If you spend money on advertising, make sure that every word counts. Acronyms may be good ways to filter out those who aren’t you desired customer or speed up conversations among a specific tribe of professionals or specialists. But are you positive every potential customer knows what your acronym means?


Customers are more emotionally engaged with their personal problems than they are with our acronyms. Drop the acronyms and explain how your product solves their problem.