russian river pr blog

Nancy Birnbaum-Marketing Maven


marketing basics

MOONFLOWER DELIVERY Launching New Cannabis Delivery in the North Bay Area





SAN RAFAEL, CALIF., January 28, 2019 /RussianRiverPR/ — Moonflower Delivery  has announced their new cannabis delivery service based in previously underserved Marin County.moonflower-logo

Moonflower was created by a team of four passionate cannabis enthusiasts,  Nico Spann, Danielle Spann, Alexa Wall, and Curtis Wall. Moonflower is an online dispensary that thoughtfully curates & delivers product directly to your door. They’ve tried every product and hand selected the finest quality the Golden State has to offer.

The co-founders are experts within their respective fields; farming, tech, compliance, fashion, retail, and business operations. With a combined 20+ years of experience in the cannabis industry, they look forward to bringing unique, high-quality products, and first-class customer service to Marin and Sonoma County.

Moonflower states, We have seen how cannabis has benefited those closest to us, and in return, we have been inspired to spread our love for the plant, while making a positive impact within our community here in the North Bay.

They will be having their grand opening on Friday, February 1, 2019. Their hours will be from 11am-7pm, Tuesday through Friday, and 12pm-6pm on the weekends.

Those interested can learn more about the Moonflower’s online dispensary through the company’s website :

Find them on Social Media: Instagram and Facebook

Media Contact: Nancy Birnbaum, Russian River PR
(707) 978-0610


About Moonflower

Moonflower Delivery was created by four passionate cannabis professionals to provide all residents with access to high-quality brands delivered with education and excellent service.


Building a Brand: Develop (and Maintain) a Compliant and Innovative Brand

I found some useful information in this interview with Jenn Larry, President of CBDStrategy Group. Sharing with you as it’s applicable to any industry!

April 2, 2018
by Melissa Schiller

Brands create visual identities through logos, but a successful brand goes beyond flashy graphics, captures the business’s personality and produces meaningful communications that result in bottom line growth, according to Jenn Larry, president of CBDStrategy Group, a Canadian marketing and communications firm.

“Brands are more than logos,” Larry says. “People connect with the quality of people that you hire, the way … management is running a company, the way customer service responds, the way product availability occurs.”

Here, in the first installment of a three-part series, Larry offers tips on how to thrive inside the box of regulation to develop and maintain a brand aligned with your business objectives to ensure long-term success, domestically and abroad.

1. Learn to thrive.

Strict marketing and branding regulations may seem to put your cannabis business at a disadvantage, but your competition must adhere to the same regulations also. Instead of being angry with the law, Larry stresses to learn to thrive within it, as that’s where you will gain your competitive advantage.

“You only have a disadvantage if [your brand] misaligns with your business objective,” Larry says. “I think when the laws are stringent, it definitely does make it sometimes more difficult, but it requires more innovation, better outside-of-the-box thinking, and it requires a retooling of what a business can stand for instead of relying solely on advertising as a way to connect.”

In Canada, branding and marketing regulations are particularly stringent in the tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical markets, but the federal regulations that will govern legal cannabis when the market opens this summer allow each province to dictate rules on advertising, sales and pricing. In the U.S., however, there is still a lack of federal support and guidance. “You have states who are stepping up on multiple levels and demonstrating that they can create a healthy economy, but a lot of it’s functioning in the gray market,” Larry says.

The way Canadian cannabis companies navigate branding and marketing within regulations may bring a new perspective to businesses in the states, making operators think about the responsibility of branding and how their brands enter the market. Already, Canadian businesses face limited advertising, restrictions on packaging and other challenges.

For example, many of Canada’s licensed producers have a small web presence but are still able to maintain strong brands and reach patients in the medical market through recommendations from clinics, she says. The clinic will suggest which licensed producer a patient buys from based on the formulation of CBD and THC that has been recommended, and that may initiate the patient’s visit to a brand’s website as they look at which strains are available.

“If you go to their website, they have … basic information, but it’s not a website of storytelling and blogs and brands that we traditionally think about when brands go out and make these rich websites,” Larry says. “They’re utility-based.”

Traditional promotional advertising—such as radio, TV, and print ads; billboards; store signage; sponsoring sporting events or working with celebrity influencers—is illegal for Canadian cannabis brands, but Larry urges businesses to find compliant ways to connect with their audiences through public relations, hiring practices, research-based programs and customer service, while always complementing their business objectives.

“While I appreciate that it’s certainly very hard for many businesses to wrap their heads around how to achieve things, I think it’s an amazing opportunity for great thinkers and great designers to use design thinking to really put together brands that can be compliant but can still matter,” she says. “I think the players who will stay true to their brands while staying hyper-focused on what the law’s going to do, they will rise to the top, like they have in all other industries.”

For example, although celebrity influencers are off-limits, British Columbia’s Invictus recently added Gene Simmons to its board of directors as a “chief evangelist officer.”

“While they could never use his likeness or celebrity to promote, they absolutely could put him on a board of directors or they could make him part of the C suite, and it is an interesting way to think about how you can still get news coverage while using celebrity, in brackets, but not using the traditional way of advertising or using the celebrity as an influencer,” Larry says.

2. Find your niche.

Brands need to find their niche in the market and then consistently stay true to that niche, Larry says. A brand can’t be successful unless it stands for something and knows what and who it is. By defining its values and staying true to them, a brand can identify and maintain its niche within the market. However, Larry adds that companies should not be afraid to conduct ongoing research and improve within their niche.

“I think in staying true to a brand’s integrity, brands that really know who they are, know what they stand for and really leverage strategy in their efforts to build brands always go the distance,” Larry says. “Strategy matters.”

Toms, the shoe company, is a good example of a brand that understands its place and how to differentiate itself, Larry says.

“They understood what they stood for, the materials they use, the way they develop products, the way they gave money back based on a purchase, helping consumers enforce responsibility,” she says.

Emerging socially and economically responsible cannabis companies that source products responsibly and add value are the ones that will succeed, Larry adds.

“Consistency in a message is not about marketing, consistency in a message is about practice,” she says.

3. Develop the brand beyond its visual identity.

While putting together your compliant and innovative brand, remember that while its visual identity is important, it should also demonstrate the company’s personality and objectives.

“Oftentimes, brand development is … how we’re going to market, what’s our brand going to look like and where are we going to play?” Larry says. “I think the opportunity brands should now be looking at is how can we better integrate all of our departments to drive a single conversation, a factual and compliant conversation, into the market that still motivates and creates enthusiasm in our company and in our clients? And that comes from a new way of working—taking down some of the silos and not necessarily thinking that a brand should be left only to a creative department.”

Larry urges clients to not only have a strong name and logo, but to also build out the nomenclature and essence of their brand.

“Language is everything,” she says, adding, “How a brand speaks, the language they use, the terminology they establish as a way for people to identify and believe in their conversation has to be different from brand to brand, otherwise we’re all telling the same story and having the same conversation.”

The brand must be larger than any individual in the organization, she adds. “If everybody in this room had to walk away from the brand, would the brand still be bigger than all of us and inspire the new employees who will come in how to jump on board and know what we stand for and therefore how to sell us into the market?”

4. Make sure the brand works for everyone.

Businesses should align key stakeholders to ensure everyone understands the brand strategy and that the brand works for all parties before committing to one strategy, Larry (pictured left) says.

“To build anything and stay on track requires a consistency and that should come out of the gate by getting everybody onboarded, so [that] as we’re building this brand, we’re building it for the best of the company, and not just for a single department’s individual needs,” she says.

In this industry, it may be hard to stop and take stock of the brand, she adds, but it is important to find time to come together to challenge and defend the core ideas to ensure it is well understood. That way, if the business expands or goes into hypergrowth, the brand remains solid.

“Even if you hired new people or you had a turn rate, you wouldn’t lose sight of where you are because the powers that be already came together and made the effort to ensure there was a single message and a single page that this brand grew from,” Larry says.

Last, it is important to involve everyone, she stresses, from the IT department to the customer service representatives to the sales staff. Each department must provide insight on sell-through, user experience and more to help create the whole brand story.

“It’s about people who are integral to the brand and understanding how the brand impacts the market from many different areas,” she says. “There is a global problem with a gap between sales and marketing, and mostly that’s because marketing teams often design the sales tools, and they haven’t asked the sales team what they really need to help close the deal.”

When more departments are involved in the development of brand building, products and communications, it ensures that the brand successfully moves to market, stays authentic and adds value, not just to the end-user, but also to the employees.

“Employees can succeed in their job, but beyond succeeding, they can thrive in what they do and feel that they don’t just have a job, but that they have a role because their voices are heard. Feeling like they are participating in the creation of the success of the company is what really makes the difference in the long tail of brand success,” Larry says.

Read Part 2 here and Part 3 here

Originally published on


[Infographic] Top 10 Typography Trends to Know

I’m sure that I’m not alone when it comes to using the “right” typeface when marketing or designing collateral for a business. In fact, there are so many (43,000 typefaces for the web alone!), that it’s hard to know where to begin.

When you’re tasked with picking a typeface for your brand, it can easily become overwhelming. So here’s a handy Infographic that shows the most popular fonts of 2017 and the trends to watch going forward. You may find some surprising info.

#BetterLettersIn2018 <3!

Infographic by Web-design and marketing agency Branex.


Optimizing for Voice Search: Four Tactics for 2018

With all the talk about the future of marketing, we marketers forget about the changes happening right now, right in front of us. Voice search is one of those phenomena, and it’s affecting search results as you read.

And it’s a trend that marketers can easily capitalize on with the right optimization techniques.

How important is voice search optimization today? Some 40% of adults now use voice search once per day, according to comScore, and Google voice search queries were up 35 fold in 2016 from 2008 levels, according to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report.

In short, it’s time to optimize your website for voice search.

Fortunately, doing so is not rocket science. You can have your website ranking for certain phrases within a few weeks, if you start using the following four strategies today.

1. Questions Over Keywords

Sure, keywords are vital to search engine optimization (SEO). And, yes, that still applies when we talk about voice searches. But voice searches are largely about answering questions, not about focusing on individual keywords.

If you’re trying to optimize a website for a flower shop, you wouldn’t focus on short-tail keywords like “fresh flowers” or “[insert city] flower shops.” Instead, you’d aim to address a consumer’s specific question, such as “how to setup a flower arrangement for a patio area?”

This favoring of long-tail keywords is the prevailing trend in SEO, in general, but it applies most aptly to voice search.

The easiest thing you can do to start addressing those sorts of questions is to add an FAQ page to your site. If you can answer a series of questions with “value,” drawing on your industry expertise, Google’s search bots will recognize these efforts and reward you with a prominent voice search result, as will other search engines. Like so…

Voice-search-courtesy of

If you’re having trouble formulating a good set of consumer questions to address, don’t be afraid to perform some outreach. Join forums and message boards, and use Quora to interact with consumers and fellow marketers alike. You can also reach out to your email list to identify which areas your customers need the most help in.

2. Local Search Optimization

Have you ever found yourself visiting a city for the first time and relying on your phone to tell you the best restaurants and places to visit? That is one of the largest applications of voice search today, and it’s a growing trend.

Optimizing for voice search means optimizing for local SEO. Here are the two main areas of overlap between the two:

  • Google My Business listing: Make sure your business address, phone number, and website are listed accurately.
  • Reviews: You want to collect lots of positive Google reviews. When somebody asks Siri for “best Thai restaurants in LA,” they’ll be shown places with the most reviews first. (Study after study comes to the same conclusion: Consumers use positive reviews to inform their purchasing decisions.)

3. Mobile-Responsiveness

It goes without saying that most voice searches are performed on some sort of mobile device. So you’d better make sure that your site is good to go on mobile.

Moreover, Google has announced mobile-first indexing, which means that it doesn’t really matter how responsive your desktop site is; if your mobile site is a dud, your search ranking will be a dud, period.

Creating a positive mobile experience means your content must be digestible to the user. Long paragraphs should be reconsidered in favor of short, 2-3 sentence tidbits.

Think about your own experience reading content on a mobile device. How many times have you given up on an article for no other reason than it was too long and clunky to read?

Content for a mobile site should be succinct and concise, and it should clearly answer the question you’re trying to rank for in voice search. If it’s too roundabout, if it fails to directly address the question, and it’s written like a 500-page novel, don’t expect to be rewarded in voice search results.

4. Video Content Creation

Finally, a great way to sneak into voice search rankings is to post a YouTube video that answers the specific topic you have in mind.

It turns out that YouTube videos do show up in voice search results.

Here’s an example for “how to tie a tie”:

video-content-screenshot-courtesy of

We’ve known for a while that YouTube videos can outrank static Web pages in normal SERPs, but this is apparently true for voice search as well.

If you’re camera-shy, fear not. You don’t have to go in front of the camera if you don’t want to. Instead, you can answer a question using graphics and voiceover: in short, explainer videos.

The Main Point

Poring through all the statistics, data, and case studies about voice search can be headache-inducing; so, rather than overthinking your strategy, which can lead you to crash and burn, try to break it down into the basic principle of answering your consumers’ questions.

Of course, figuring out those questions is where the grunt work comes in (keyword research). But once you’ve decided on a set of questions, created content with actionable solutions, and optimized it for voice search and local SEO, you might well be surprised to see how much your hard work pays off!

Article by Michael Peggs. Originally published on

Need help with any of these options? Get in touch!

5 things you should be doing now on social media to help your small business thrive

At least 86 percent of Americans are now Internet users, according to a recent Pew Research poll. A national survey of 1,520 adults conducted March 7-April 4, 2016, finds that Facebook continues to be America’s most popular social networking platform by a substantial margin: Nearly eight-in-ten online Americans (79%) now use Facebook. Here’s the current state of the social media landscape in America:

  • 79% of internet users (68% of all U.S. adults) use Facebook
  • 32% of internet users (28% of all U.S. adults) use Instagram
  • 24% of internet users (21% of all U.S. adults) use Twitter
  • 29% of internet users (25% of all U.S. adults) use LinkedIn
  • 31% of internet users (26% of all U.S. adults) use Pinterest

Unsure which social media platform is right for your business?

Check out these 5 tips to make sure your business is using social media effectively. And then Contact Me to find out how to get started!

1) Get on Google and Facebook first

At a bare minimum, you need to make sure that your business has an online presence on the most popular search engine and social media sites. If your business has been around a while, it probably already has a listing on Google, but you need to claim that listing. By claiming your listing on Google, you can get a jumpstart on making sure you come up when some does a Google Search for your type of business. Plus, you can make sure that your business hours and contact information are correct. Claiming the listing also allows you to respond to reviews that your customers or client may write.

2) Diversify your social media presence

Social media is always changing, but there’s a real advantage to having a presence on several different sites. Not every platform is right for every business. For instance, if your business lends itself to a more visually-oriented product, like art for instance, then you would want to be on Instagram and Pinterest. If you want to reach more business people, then LinkedIn is for you.

Your social media profiles on different sites can also help promote the other, and individual sites each have their unique advantages. Creating a YouTube page and posting a few videos is a fantastic and easy way to boost your search ranking.

3) Live broadcast a video

In addition to the wider choice of reactions to a post, last year Facebook added live video feeds. Broadcasting a live video on Facebook is comparable to having a local news crew show up at your business. A live broadcast can be the perfect way to publicize a special event or sale.

It’s best to keep live video feeds short. You’ll be able to see who’s watching in real-time and make comments as well.

4) Schedule your postings

You need to be informed about the best times to post on social media, so that you will be reaching the largest possible audience. The best time to post depends on the type of social media page you’re using.

Facebook and Twitter posts get the widest circulation in the evening, later in the week. LinkedIn, on the other hand, gets the most traffic in the morning in the middle of the workweek.

Facebook has just added the ability to schedule your posts for peak hours, so your business can still have Facebook posts going online while the office is empty. You can also get a free account on Hootsuite where you can schedule social media posts for up to three platforms.

5) Hire a social media professional to help

Managing social media takes time and expertise, especially when your business is just building social networks. Just learning about the different markets takes time, and then it can be a challenge to develop engaging and informative content that promote your brand.

Some businesses delegate the maintenance of social media pages to someone already working in the office, but this tends to result in inconsistent quality. To project a professional image for your brand, you need to enlist the help of a Social Media Professional like Russian River PR & Marketing.

Budgeting for social media also allows you to pay for advertising, which can increase the size of your following. With the right help, planning and attention, social media can make your 2018 a winning year for your small business.



Tickets still available! Tuesday, May 16 for a Night of Business Development with Women’sCBD!

5-16-17-flyerWCBD presents: A Night of Business Development

Presented by William Wong & Rose Chastain, CSW Business Coaching and Women’s Cannabis Business Development

Join us on May 16th, 6-9pm at Whiskey Tip in Santa Rosa.
Address: 1910 Sebastopol Rd., Santa Rosa, CA 95407

This event is designed to have you be able to produce outrageous results!

You will leave this evening having met new people and crafted a killer “Elevator Pitch” that makes it clear how you are different than every other person in this industry.
– What is special about your edibles?
– What makes your flowers the ones people should buy?
– Why use your delivery service?
– Why invest in your company?
– Why buy land with you?

These are important questions to answer and you have to answer them well.
We will work in groups and support each other in positioning yourself in the best way possible.

Come to the event and get step-by-step solutions and tools to increase your business.
Please bring your own notebook.

Food, Snacks provided and delicious drinks and cocktails available at the bar.

RAFFLE PRIZES! 50% proceeds donated to CA NORML


Public – Advanced $25 / Door $35

Founding Members – FREE (+1 friend free) – please register to save your spot!

Individual Members – $25 (+1 friend 50% off)

Sponsorship Opportunities Available! Please email us at to inquire.


Contact us at

Join the WCBD Facebook group at: 

Sign up for WCBD’s Monthly Newsletter at:

Sonoma County’s professional women and men are invited to:

BUILD your business
ACCESS resources
CREATE opportunities and
INSPIRE your best self

We join together in the common goal of Sonoma County to become a successful and thriving local cannabis economy while bringing social justice to those affected by the drug war and safe access of medicine for those in need.

#BadAssLadyBosses Rule!


Zen Moment: Zen and the Art of Marketing for Good

These are turbulent times, and it takes an effort to make sense of it all.

In today’s blog I take a look at how the business and marketing community can benefit from a Zen-like approach to relate to today’s fractured and often alienated audiences.

As the Dalai Lama said,

“To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.”

― Dalai Lama XIV

Strive and persevere and never give up.

Inspiring words…

Marketing – the Bellweather of business confidence

Businesses are naturally concerned about recent events. And marketers particularly so as marketing spend is often viewed as a Bellweather or indicator of business confidence.

As the volatile stock market demonstrated today, any major surprise (or calamity, depending on where you sit) has the power to either;

A) ignite creativity


B) create fear and uncertainty

Zen and the Art of Marketing for Good

The world is shrinking and we’re more globally aware and connected than ever before. We should ideally use the communication channels available to us for good, and look out for ways to improve lives in the process.

“Marketing for Good” is the term I’ve chosen. By which I mean using creative, lateral and inclusive thinking to deliver effective marketing with ethical outcomes.

Education, Sustainability and Fair Trade initiatives have for some time been a way for multinationals such as Kerry Group, Unilever and Coke to demonstrate their social conscience and win favour with consumers, and smaller companies should also consider what part they can play in similar initiatives.

Here’s a quick list of some of the “Marketing for Good” trends of the past decade that spring to mind…

  1. Social corporate responsibility whereby all kinds of companies align with charities (this Huffpost article delves into the CSR topic),
  2. Contextual marketing allows brands and companies to provide real time, location-specific information and experiences (this Púca blog explores the opportunities for marketers)
  3. Exergaming is simply gaming plus exercise. Win-win! It is related to contextual marketing in terms of integrating location based information. Pokémon GO is just the beginning…
  4. Evolved Customer Experience sees public and private organisations using apps and other digital strategies to listen to, inform and empower their customers
  5. Business efficiency apps are reducing reliance on paper-based forms, fuel costs and other environmental impacts
  6. Mobile payment solutions are allowing consumers to quickly channel donations to charities

I’m hoping to see marketers continue to foster “marketing for good” initiatives that benefit the environment, socially disadvantaged and other worthy causes. The brands that do so will deservedly win the affinity and loyalty of their customers.

So what’s my conclusion?

I guess it’s simply that Marketing for Good is all about nurturing our social conscience alongside our sense of creativity, innovation and fun. I feel that as long as marketers stay positive and creative and continue to think digital, then their brands or clients will continue to thrive.

Originally published on The Pulse.

#russianriverpr #marketingzen #corporate-responsibility



Easy How To: Write a business plan that will get noticed

I found this well-written article on Shopify (the new-ish, easy-to-use way to add commerce to your website). Thanks Jessica!

“Ah, the dreaded business plan. A frightful phrase for many, the very idea of having to write a business plan to apply for bank financing or equity crowdfunding can conjure up feelings of frustration or even dread!

That’s why so many business owners put off their funding applications and procrastinate about completing their business plans, even when they know finishing the task is in their best interests.

But if you need a business bank loan to grow your retail or ecommerce business, then you can’t avoid the business plan. Fortunately, you can use an approach that’s productive, interesting, and even (dare I say it?) fun, to develop a business plan that helps you apply for financing and becomes an important tool for guiding your company’s growth.

The “Ideal Customer” Approach to Business Planning

Gone are the days of the 80-page novella with reams of meaningless hockey stick graphs and business jargon. Your business is new and innovative, and your business plan should reflect that. Start with a simple question:

Who is my Ideal Customer?

Every single other piece of content you write for your business plan should be written with the answer to this question in mind. Once you have defined the one perfect customer for your business—the one you would simply clone thousands of times if you could—then you have a foundation for your market research, your marketing plan, your operations manual, even your financial projections. With a clear understanding of what problem your business solves and who you solve it for, writing a business plan becomes an exercise in how you’re going to make your ideal customers happy.

A business plan should be an exercise in how you will make your ideal customers happy.

[Click to tweet]

Suddenly, a business plan becomes something actionable. Something you can actually use to guide your business and evaluate your progress.

It also becomes something focused, specific, and clear. It’s no 80-page tome. It’s a succinct breakdown of exactly what your business will do and who it will do it for. That’s pretty compelling.

I’ll tell you this: if you write your business plan with this focus, you will be able to excite any lender or investor who reads it.

What to Include in Your Business Plan

Even with this new approach, your business plan should still be laid out the way lenders expect to see it. I recommend starting with this general outline and customizing it to your business.

1. Executive Summary: An overview of your business plan. Summarize all the important points in one page.

2. Business Overview

a. Products & Services: What you sell and who you sell it to

b. Company Ownership/Legal Status: Who owns your company, and what percentage of the business does each owner have? Is the company a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation? How much money has been invested into the company by the owners to date?

c. Start-up Summary: How much money do you need and how will you spend it?

d. Mission/Vision: What’s your purpose for being in business? This is an important part of the story you want to share with your customers and your lender.

e. Goals & Objectives: Include at least one short-term (within year 1) and one long-term (3+ years) goal for your business, and 2-3 smaller objectives that will help you reach those goals.

3. The Market

a. The Ideal Customer: Who is your customer avatar?

b. Market Size: Discuss your overall market and how big you think it is.

c. Market Segmentation: Your products and services will appeal to a few different kinds of customers. Describe your market segments, and indicate which one your ideal customer falls into.

4. Industry Trends: What are the local and global trends in your industry? This is also a good place to talk about switching costs, suppliers, and the potential for new competitors to emerge.

5. Competition: List your major competitors along with their strengths and weaknesses. Include an explanation of the benefits they offer to buyers.

6. Marketing & Sales Plans

a. Competitive Advantage: What sets you apart from everyone else who sells what you sell?

b. Marketing Plan: What will your initial and ongoing marketing activities look like, and what’s your budget for those? How many new customers should your marketing activities bring you? How many subscribers? How much website traffic?

7. SWOT Analysis: Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. What are the best things about your company? What are you not so good at? What market or industry shifts can you take advantage of and turn into opportunities? Are there external factors threatening your ability to succeed? Add a paragraph discussing how the business will overcome its weaknesses and threats.

8. Operations

a. General Operations: What are your opening hours? What is the process for bringing on a new customer? How about getting reviews, feedback or referrals? Do you have a clear sales funnel (the path people take to become your customer)? What does a typical day in your business look like?

b. Location: If you have a location, describe it and why you chose it. If you’re choosing to do business online instead, explain why.

c. Distribution: Are all your sales direct to customer, or do you sell wholesale or through affiliate partners?

d. Suppliers: Who are the major suppliers for your business, and how did you choose them?

9. Management & Personnel

a. Management Overview: Describe your management team’s background and explain their roles in the day-to-day operation of the business.

b. Personnel/Staffing: Summarize your personnel needs here, including your hiring schedule, approximate wages, and your organizational chart. Explain what each staff member does on a daily basis. It’s your people who operate your business, so you need to explain what they do to make it tick.

10. Exit Strategy: Do you plan to operate this business forever, or eventually sell, license or franchise it? Lenders need to know how they’re going to get their money back.

11. Financial Projections

a. Assumptions: Everyone skips this part, but it’s the most important part of the financial forecasts. Explain your assumptions about revenue, sales growth, and expenses here.

b. Break Even: Briefly summarize when you expect your company to start breaking even—that is, earn enough revenue to cover all operating costs.

c. Profit & Loss: Highlight your projected net profits and explain whether they are higher or lower than the industry standard, and why.

d. Cash Flow: Explain your credit policies and offer a plan for what you’ll do if your cash balance starts to get low.

e. Balance Sheet: Briefly explain the expected debt (loans or lines of credit) to equity (owner or investment contribution) in your business, and why you chose this balance.

Know When to Stop Writing

It’s so easy to go overboard with market research and analysis. Keep it focused mostly on your ideal customer, with just a short paragraph on each of your other market segments.

In your Personnel section, you don’t need to provide complete job descriptions. In most cases, just a line or two will do. In the competitive analysis, review only your top 3-5 closest competitors; if you have many competitors, as restaurants and retail stores often do, group them into categories instead of analyzing each one individually.

Lenders don’t have time to read really long business plans, so don’t write them. Usually, a lender will review your Executive Summary and Financial Projections first, and if they like what they see, they’ll move on to review the rest of the plan. Make sure your Executive Summary summarizes your ideal customer, your financing request, your estimated loan payback period, your profit potential, and your team’s capability to make it all happen—all in one page.

I repeat—your Executive Summary should only be one page long.

And don’t try to write it until the rest of your business plan is finished. It’s always the last task you should tackle, when the plan is still fresh in your mind and the most important points are easy to recall.

When you’ve done all of this, you’ll have a concise business plan that probably won’t exceed 20 pages.

What to Do With Your Business Plan After You Get Funding

With a business plan focused on your ideal customer, you hold in your hand a powerful tool for keeping your business on track. Assuming you set clear goals and objectives in the plan, you can go back and review these to evaluate whether or not you’ve achieved them.

You can use your financial forecasts to compare to your company’s actual performance, and quickly see if anything needs to shift. And when you’re making decisions about marketing campaigns, you can review your ideal customer profile to make sure your marketing dollars are being spent in places that will resonate with the people you want to sell to.

See? A business plan can be an interesting and useful tool for your business, as well as an essential document for getting a business loan. When you see your plans actually start to manifest, you’ll be very glad you did all of that work and didn’t shove it into a desk drawer when you were done.

Originally published on Shopify Blog



About 62% of all businesses in the US have under five employees, and 76% of those small business owners consider marketing to be a major challenge. Most small business owners are hard-pressed to find either time or personnel, making it tough for them to dedicate resources to marketing. However, it’s also true that social media has been identified as a potent marketing channel for businesses of all sizes and the need to be present on social is stronger now than ever before.

With handy mobile apps, small business owners and social media marketers can manage social media marketing without much effort. Here is a list of a few extremely useful apps to simplify your social media marketing efforts.


lastpass-appLastPass means last password, or the last password that someone using the app will ever need to recall, because the app stores passwords and lets users access their accounts without having to type them every single time. As a business owner, you may use multiple apps and websites that requires you to remember multiple passwords. So many of my clients have trouble with this common trouble-maker. Many of you will resort to using similar or the same password for multiple sites or programs. If you listen to the news, you’ve already heard how vunerable this can leave you. LastPass is a great way to save the time wasted on logging in and out of multiple accounts.

LastPass has a mobile version with complete features that integrates its web app, so you can create new accounts on your desktop and access them on your mobile device with ease. You do this by creating a LastPass account, downloading the app on all your devices and logging into the app on each of them. Once you have, LastPass will store passwords across your devices and allow you convenient access from all of them. It works seamlessly with your Chrome browser too.

LastPass is available as a web app and mobile app for Android and iOS devices.


pixiz-appAbout 500 million tweets are sent out each day, and for your content to standout and catch your followers’ attention, you need eye-catching images.

Pixiz is a simple graphic editing software that lets you create images for social media in a short span of time. You begin by installing the app and creating an account. Then you can choose from a list of potential images & canvas sizes depending on which social media platform you intend to post your content on. The software has a collection of stock images and basic templates that you can work with. You can choose an image for your background and add text or an overlay with ease. You can also choose from a host of interesting fonts and coloring options to make your image more engaging. The editing options are very simple and intuitive. Create an engaging social media graphic in a flash, it’s that simple. Considering that the stock photos on the app look great, you don’t need to be a great designer to create graphics on the app. But if you’re like me, you’ve got tons of images that you’ve scraped together just for this!

images-on-clipboards-pixizOne you’ve created the image, you can either save it on your phone for later or directly share from the app to your social media accounts.

Pixiz is available as a web app and mobile app for Android and iOS devices.



quora-appSome of the best marketing tactics that I have come across have been on Quora. The Q&A community has over 100 million active users and is just the right place to find useful information that you can use to amp-up your social media marketing efforts. The best part about Quora is that people share their actual experience, and the answers (the good ones) are very specific and usually actionable. Once you have viewed a few questions on a topic or submitted some of your own, the app intuitively begins to display Q&As related to your interests on your feed.

You can also use Quora to answer questions and build your influence in your industry. In other words, you can be your company’s influencer. To find the right questions, you need to state your area of expertise in your profile details. Once you have, the app will find and deliver questions in that area right to you. It is good to put some effort into making your answers precise and useful. Doing that will earn you “up-votes” and followers on Quora. Where relevant, you can suggest your product/service to people who are seeking them and in the process earn visibility fro your company. Make yourself the “Expert” on Quora!

Quora is available as a web app and mobile app for Android and iOS devices.


brand24-appOne of the ways to destroy you social media brand, is by miscalculating it. Your brand is what people say it is, and unless you are monitoring their words closely, you are miscalculating your brand.

Your audience will talk about your brand whether you want them to or not, and there is very little that you can do to control everything that they say. The best way to manage your brand name, is by monitoring it and responding swiftly. Social media marketing tools like Brand24 help with that process. You can set up “Projects” on Brand24, each with one keyword/theme that you want to monitor. The obvious keyword to monitor is your brand name. Once you have created that project, the tool will alert you of mentions as they happen, or on a daily or weekly report. The real-time alerts that the tool offers are useful because you can thank people for positive mentions and attend to the negative ones before they cause any real damage. Brand24 also has a sentiment analysis feature that sorts mentions based on the emotions associated with them, so you can deal with the more pressing ones first. The free or Demo version allows you up to 5 keywords.

Brand24 is available as a web app and mobile app for Android and iOS devices.


ifttt-appMost small business marketers can’t set aside the time necessary to create content for multiple social media platforms. IFTTT can help bridge that gap.

IFTTT stands for “If this, then that”. It is an app that allows you to create “recipes” for automated content posting. For instance, you can instruct the app to post your Facebook statuses to Twitter, or send you an email each time your favorite publication posts something. There are quite a few diverse recipes on the app that integrate different social media apps and tools. You can create a set of recipes to cover your content marketing efforts on social media or choose from a huge collection available from it’s many users.

You begin by choosing a “Trigger channel”, a “Trigger action” and an “Action channel”. Then you’ll need to fill out the trigger details to make you recipe specific. Say your trigger channel is Twitter, you trigger action could be “New mention of you” and your action channel can be email. So when someone mentions you on Twitter, you will get an email. Several social media marketers have listed their recipes in articles. All you have to do is find such articles on a top publication sites, and copy the recipes to the dot, and you’ll instantly and effortlessly have a powerful social media marketing plan.

IFTTT is available as a web app and mobile app for Android and iOS devices.


mailchimp-appIf you have client/subscriber email addresses stored on a CRM or excel sheet, you can upload them on MailChimp to create an automated email campaign. Email campaigns can help nurture new leads and prompt existing customers to reorder.

MailChimp’s email marketing software is all cloud-based and comes with pre-designed templates and a drag and drop editor that makes creating emails easy. After you have created your email campaign you can schedule it to go out to the email list that you have uploaded. You can also use the app to segment your email list and target customers with content targeted at them. The software also offers analytics to track the effectiveness of your campaign. Best of all, it’s free to send to up to 1000 email addresses. You can create as many lists as you need: one for customers, one for potential customers, one for friends, and so on.

MailChimp’s mobile app is useful in managing your email lists and campaigns on the go. You can set up the campaigns on your desktop and then monitor them conveniently from your mobile device. Start you Digital Marketing Campaign today!

MailChimp is available as a web app and mobile app for Android and iOS devices.


google-analytics-appYou can’t optimize how you spend resources available to you unless you know what is and isn’t working for you. Google Analytics is a completely free tool that gives you useful insights, like where your traffic is coming from. The tool has traffic sources broken down to each social media platform. You can use the data to identify and boost the platform that is driving you the most traffic. For instance, if most of your traffic is coming from Facebook, you will be able to verify that fact and allocate more resources to the platform.

You can also add UTM parameters to social media posts to identify the more successful ones. Google’s URL builder can help you create unique UTMs for each of your posts. Once you have created them and set-up conversion tracking for your social media posts, you will be able to track your posts’ success. The mobile version of Google Analytics can be a quick means of tracking the progress of your social media activity when on the go.

You can access your Google Analytics dashboard on Android and iOS devices.

Of course, RussianRiver PR is here to help. If you need to learn more, need assistance with Social Media and want to learn how it can help your bottom line, please give us a call!




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