Neil A. Carousso is the Segment Producer and Features Editor of The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez, airing Friday nights at 7 PM on WCBS Newsradio 880. Each week Lynda talks with newsmakers for a deep dive into the top stories of the week and the impact it has on people.
Neil A. Carousso produces WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight with Bloomberg Business reporter Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments with Tri-State Area entrepreneurs for tips on how you can grow sales and expand your business.
  
See Neil A. Carousso’s original reporting on American heroes and veterans-related issues on Entercom’s ConnectingVets.com platform.

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  • WCBS 880 business tips: 5 ways to change your sales

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Business owners are changing the way they sell to recover and grow during the coronavirus pandemic.

    All three entrepreneurs on the WCBS BNB Bank Virtual Business Breakfast panel with Joe Connolly have adjusted their sales operations and strategies, increasing revenue as a result; they share advice to other owners on how to boost sales even in this tough economic climate.

    1. Reduce Overhead

    Satisfi Labs Co-Founder and CEO Don White says vendors are currently offering incentives for suppliers. You may be in a good position to negotiate.

    “Now is a great time to shop for a better rate or a better priced option,” White said. “We were able to reduce our health costs by 40 percent going into 2021 just because of how we worked with our partner who wanted to retain us, and even though it’s 25 employees, they were very interested in offering us the ability to do that.”

    The savvy tech entrepreneur says now is a great time to reduce your overhead going into next year.

    2. Pivot to Boost Revenue

    NTWRK president Moksha Fitzgibbons says small retailers should pivot online and attempt to move their current customer base to their e-commerce platform.

    “I would say do as much as you can to build that online revenue and try to grow that as efficiently, as effectively as you can, and then, reopen that store in a safe way to bring back your customer base, as best you can, and introduce them to your online piece,” Fitzgibbons said in response to an audience question from Anita Manfredonia who owns a boutique in Flushing, Queens named Pippy & Lily.

    NTWRK is a livestreaming e-commerce application that has helped retailers pivot from brick and mortar to grow digital sales.

    One example Fitzgibbons shares on the Virtual Business Breakfast is Chelsea-based artist Mr. Flower Fantastic who designs elaborate floral pieces for live events and showcases, including making a floral masterpiece of Serena Williams’ Nike Air Max 97 sneaker for the 2018 U.S. Open. NTWRK has a creative content deal with MFF that will rake in “seven figures plus” in revenue this year after event cancellations temporarily set the floral artist’s business back.

    3. Know Who Your Customers Are

    A key to changing your sales is understanding who your customers are by digging into your transaction data and social media analytics.

    “When we saw that it was a reorder, we put a handwritten note in there with an extra two-ounce bottle thanking them for ordering from us,” Jennifer Decker of Long Island-based 3 Moms Organics said of her personal touch.

    Her customers became the company’s most influential spokespeople during the pandemic as they made their own posts and videos explaining and showing how their DEET-free product TickWise works to repel ticks and insects.

    A combination of genuine influencer marketing and targeted Facebook advertisements accelerated 3 Moms Organics’ sales over 1,000 percent this year.

    4. Help Others Who Are Struggling

    White shared his conviction that the business community should help others who have been laid-off due to this crisis. One way to do that is through virtual networking made easier on LinkedIn.

    “Some of those relationships have really benefited our company,” White said, noting that was not his objective. “I was able to provide them some benefits of either talking through what opportunities they were looking for, ways they can potentially help us, and then they would in turn say, ‘well, how can I help you?’ There was a reciprocal opportunity.”

    His startup’s revenue doubled after shifting his sales operations from a regionally focused sales team to a vertical sales team whereby staffers focused on areas of expertise rather than geographic location since business travel was halted.

    5. Be a Business for the Future

    Fitzgibbons believes consumer behavior has changed permanently and entrepreneurs should look to fulfill needs in the marketplace.

    “I used to go to Whole Foods all the time and now I order it through Amazon Prime.
    I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a Whole Foods or certainly not with the frequency that I once did,” he shared, adding, “You need to think through that need case and make sure that you are well-positioned to be a business for the future and not one of the past.”

    Watch the WCBS BNB Bank Virtual Business Breakfast with Joe Connolly here.

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  • UWS small business finds new customers on e-commerce store

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    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Retailers that have grown their e-commerce platforms are the ones that are surviving the pandemic.

    Sylvia Parker owns Magpie – a gift store on Amsterdam Avenue between 83rd and 84th Streets on the Upper West Side. She told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank, “now is the time” for retailers to focus on building and growing their online presence.

    “I know shop owners are really busy, but if they can take these couple of extra minutes or whatever to do it, then it’s worthwhile, obviously worthwhile,” she said.

    Parker, with the help of a “tech savvy staff member,” recently built a new website using a “big e-commerce” platform that has templates. Her product photos stand out on the easy-to-navigate online store. She told WCBS 880 that she purchased a portable photo booth for about $100 from a local camera store to take product photos for her website and Instagram page.

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  • The 880 Weekly Rewind: How Amy Coney Barrett Would Reshape the Supreme Court, Trump and Biden Dig in their Heels and New Jersey’s Mail-In Election

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Judge Amy Coney Barrett faced questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of their scheduled vote Thursday to send her Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate. WCBS anchor Lynda Lopez examines her judicial record with Bloomberg News Supreme Court reporter Greg Stohr. 18 days from the election, President Donald J. Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden hold competing town hall events and we check in on New Jersey, which is holding its first-ever primarily mail-in election. Plus, listen to our Week In Sound audio file, produced by Neil A. Carousso.

    You can listen to The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez Friday nights at 7 PM ET for a deeper dive into the top local, national and international stories of the week, featuring interviews with newsmakers and the Week/Month In Sound audio file.

     

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  • WCBS BNB Bank Virtual Business Breakfast: Growth opportunities in the COVID crisis

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Successful entrepreneurs will often say they find opportunities amid challenges, but the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a curveball at a formerly booming economy that has disrupted industries. Some resilient businesses are now growing after making key adjustments to how they sell.

    Three local entrepreneurs who have pivoted, recovered and increased revenue in the last seven months share how sales has changed in the pandemic economy on the WCBS BNB Bank Virtual Business Breakfast, hosted by Joe Connolly.

    “We started to see a lot of consumption late at night, which just spoke to the fact that people were home more, they were social distancing,” said NTWRK president Moksha Fitzgibbons.

    He told the panel he was nervous in March when they were forced to shutter production. NTWRK originally was a platform that hosted highly produced and high-quality video content for businesses. Now, it is part of a hot trend of livestreaming e-commerce in which the NTWRK application hosts vertical live video for retailers that sell their products directly on the app to prospective customers that the startup finds for business owners.

    “The more content consumption equated to more product sales,” said Fitzgibbons whose revenue doubled from March to April after the quick pivot. NTWRK is projecting a 500-600 percent increase year-over-year.

    He explained on the Virtual Business Breakfast how he helps traditional retailers, such as Mr. Flower Fantastic, based in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, make creative content that translates to sales since brick and mortar and experiential businesses are suffering amid the pandemic.

    “In short order, by end of year, we’ll drive seven figures plus revenue for (Mr.
    Flower Fantastic) around exclusive product drops in our livestreaming e-commerce application,” Fitzgibbons said.

    Don White, co-founder and chief executive officer of Manhattan artificial intelligence firm Satisfi Labs, saw revenue plummet to zero when all of his retail and entertainment clients – including Macy’s, Major League Baseball, Universal Orlando Resort and the Georgia Aquarium – were shut down in March. He credits their recovery to a shift of their sales operations from location to industry specialization by his staff since business travel was halted.

    “Moving to a vertical sales team meant that someone who covered all the other aquariums could speak more intelligently about what aquariums are doing or need to get their customers back,” White explained.

    “That verticalization and expertise goes a long way in terms of understanding of the category and truly being a partner with the client to give them the success that they need on the platform,” Fitzgibbons added.

    Jennifer Decker, co-owner 3 Moms Organics, is up more than 1,000 percent this year, which she attributes to creative and educational content they use in targeted Facebook advertisements. Their most effective advertisement was what they call the “pink paper ad” in which Decker’s partner Lisa-Jae Eggert, who studied entomology and earth science, collected ticks in the high grass on the East End and demonstrates how they stay away from the border of a pink sheet of paper that she sprayed with their product TickWise – a DEET-free tick and insect repellant.

    “She blew dry it to show even when it dries on your clothing that the ticks don’t want to go near it and that ad has definitely given us the most website sales,” Decker told Connolly and the panel.

    White said when he made a “reopening roadmap” for the hospitality industry over the summer, he discovered one piece of content can be used in email newsletters, Facebook posts and advertisements, and other social media campaigns to acquire new customers within a limited marketing budget.

    “I think it’s just very strategic, quality, small investments that can be transferred (across) a lot of channels,” he said.

    Selling direct-to-consumer on their website is now 3 Moms Organics’ focus as opposed to traditional retail. TickWise is on the shelves of about 80 stores – many of which are seasonal on Long Island and closed in March. They are registered through the Environmental Protection Agency to sell in 48 states and Washington, D.C. 3 Moms Organics was recently approved by the EPA to sell in California and are pending approvals for Maine and South Dakota.

    Decker and Eggert used their time wisely in the first three months of the pandemic to apply and receive the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise Certification (MWBE), which has opened new doors for additional revenue streams.

    “(We’ve) networked within them to learn a little bit more about what we should be doing and what we should be targeting,” Decker said of recent certifications.

    White, in an answer to an audience question from debt settlement attorney Leslie Tayne, Esq. of Tayne Law Group in Melville, Long Island, said he has made connections on LinkedIn that has replaced in-person networking during the pandemic.

    “I have been open to helping people that were unemployed as a result of the pandemic, and honestly, some of those relationships have really benefited our company,” he said, stressing his personal conviction in members of the business community helping each other through crises.

    Learn sales advice, growth strategies and ideas on pivoting and starting a new business to fill a need in the pandemic economy on the WCBS BNB Bank Virtual Business Breakfast with Joe Connolly. Watch the program above.

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  • Week In Sound: NY COVID Shutdowns and White House Superspreader

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    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — President Donald J. Trump recovered from COVID-19 at The White House this week while top aides and staff tested positive for the virus. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down non-essential businesses, schools and restricted all gatherings in neighborhoods where the COVID-19 positivity rate is surging. This sparked outrage among members of the Orthodox Jewish community who felt their religious freedom was under attack by the safety restrictions.

    Neil A. Carousso produced our Week In Sound audio file as heard on WCBS Newsradio 880 for the week ending Friday, October 9, 2020. Hear it on the media player above.

    You can listen to The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez Friday nights at 7 PM ET for a deeper dive into the top local, national and international stories of the week, featuring interviews with newsmakers and the Week/Month In Sound audio file.

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